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Large Experiments and Permanent Plot Studies

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Large experiments allow us to evaluate infrequent but important disturbances as well as to anticipate forest response to predicted stressors. The long-term experiments begun with Harvard Forest's LTER program have passed their 25th anniversaries, and represent an invaluable scientific legacy as they continually provide fundamental and novel insights into unfolding ecological processes, attract new researchers, and yield critical results for the development of sound management and policy. New long-term experiments focus on emerging stressors or build on lessons from earlier experiments.

Permanent plots are a key component of a long-term ecological research program. They provide direct insights into forest development. Results from permanent forest plots are crucial to the development and validation of forest process models. Predictions about how forests change over time and respond to climate change, invasions of exotic organisms, wind and fire disturbance, and forest management all need to be grounded in long-term observation. Permanent plots complement large experiments by providing useful comparisons in addition to the experimental controls.