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Mid-Atlantic Network (MIDN)

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Forest Vegetation Monitoring

Forest vegetation sampling crew Forest vegetation sampling crew

Forest Vegetation Resource Briefs

Forest Vegetation Inventory Reports

Forest Vegetation Monitoring Reports

Forest Vegetation Monitoring Protocol

For more information contact: Jim Comiskey

Justification

The mid-Atlantic region is primarily a forested ecoregion and all MIDN parks have forests that form an essential part of the landscape and provide habitat for a diversity of wildlife. The current monitoring protocol will assess the status and trends of forest plant communities, and the impacts of stressors such as white-tailed deer, invasive exotic plants, exotic plant diseases and pathogens, and native forest pests, as well as the effect of acid deposition of forest soils. Evaluation of snags and downed woody debris will provide information on additional important habitat.

Forest structure, composition, and dynamics are important measures of forest condition and health. Changes in these metrics can be indicative of stressors that may result in alterations in the future ecological integrity of the forest communities and the species that depend on them.

For example, high mortality rates among canopy trees may signal a change in the dominant forest species; declines in seedling and sapling densities could indicate a reduced capacity of the forest to regenerate; or, increases in invasive exotic plant cover could result in the competitive exclusion of other herbaceous plants in the forest understory.

Other anthropogenic stressors may have a long-term effect on the forest communities, including acid deposition which can alter soil chemistry, disrupting nutrient cycles. Increased habitat fragmentation surrounding parks can weaken the ecological integrity of the forests, increasing their susceptibility to exotic plant and pest invasions.

Monitoring Objectives

  1. Determine the status of and trends in forest structure, composition, and dynamics of canopy and understory woody species.
  2. Determine the status of and trends in the density and composition of tree seedlings and selected herbaceous species that are indicators of deer browse.
  3. Detect and monitor the presence of invasive exotic plants, exotic plant diseases and pathogens, and forest pests.
  4. Determine the status of and trends in forest coarse woody debris and the availability of snags.
  5. Determine the status of and trends in soil Ca:Al and C:N ratios to asses the extent of base cation depletion, increased aluminum availability, and/or nitrogen saturation impacting MIDN forest soils.

Network Park Units Monitored


Park Units Monitored in the Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network

View of fall colors from Ben Run Overlook View of fall colors from Ben Run Overlook

Forest Vegetation Resource Briefs

Forest Vegetation Inventory Reports

Forest Vegetation Monitoring Reports

Forest Vegetation Monitoring Protocol

For more information contact: Wendy Cass

Justification

Forests are the dominant ecosystem in the Blue Ridge physiographic province. Forests are a logical choice for monitoring because they represent a large key ecosystem component. This vegetation component forms the matrix upon which many other organisms depend, and is an essential visual component of the landscape. Understanding forest status and trends is fundamental to knowing the condition of natural resources.

Long- term forest monitoring will provide information on how the forests are changing over time. Many factors such as gypsy moth, hemlock woolly adelgid, invasive exotic plants, storms, and other disturbances are constantly impacting our forests. Longterm forest monitoring allows us to describe the forest's composition, and then quantify the way the forest composition and regeneration respond to disturbance over time.

Monitoring forests over time also provides early warnings of new forest threats such as new invasive plants. The fire fuels monitoring included with the forest monitoring program also aids the fire program by providing information used in fire behavior models critical to making proper decisions when fighting wildfire.

Monitoring Objectives

  1. Determine the status and trends in the composition, abundance, and structure of forest canopy and understory woody species.
  2. Determine the status and trends in the composition and abundance of invasive exotic plants and forest herbs.
  3. Determine the status and trends in the abundance of forest woody debris and composition of forest soils.

Network Park Units Monitored

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Last Updated: December 30, 2016 Contact Webmaster