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Harvard Forest Mega-plot Census Begins

June 1, 2010
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Megaplot Map

Harvard Forest researchers, with the assistance of scientists from the Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS), began the census of woody stems within a 35 ha plot located on Prospect Hill. Using standardized CTFS methodology, every stem greater than 1 cm diameter at 1.3 m is measured, tagged, and mapped. During the summer, Forest Ecologist David Orwig and 6 crew members will continue the sampling on the western portion of the plot. This plot is part of a global array of large-scale plots established by CTFS, which recently expanded sampling efforts into temperate forests to explore ecosystem processes beyond population dynamics and biodiversity. The Harvard Forest plot is dominated by eastern hemlock and northern hardwood species, and will make an excellent comparison with several other hardwood plots in North America and China at similar latitudes. 

The geography and size of the proposed plot (500 m x 700 m) was designed to capture a large amount of existing science infrastructure (e.g. eddy flux towers, gauged sections of a small watershed) while including a continuous and expansive natural forest landscape that will yield opportunities for the study of forest dynamics and demography. CTFS and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute funded the census effort along with the installation of the 20 x 20 m plots in spring 2010. Census work is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011, and then the plot will be re-sampled at 5-year intervals. 

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