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Research Highlights - Inventory, Monitoring, and Assessment

Ensuring the health and sustainabilityof the nation’s forests requires scientifically credible and timely information about the extent, location, health, and ownership of these forests and the possible effects of global climate change. Forest managers and policy makers need detailed data to assess sustainability, to make important business decisions, to evaluate wildlife habitat, and for many other things. The Northern Research Station’s Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) team is an important part of the national FIA network, which provides information on northeastern, midwestern, and Great Plains forests.

2013 Research Highlights

What Lies Beneath Bog Lake Fen

Evaluating changes to carbon levels with trace gas measurements

Wetland plants and a high water table during the summer season at Bog Lake Fen in Minnesota. Photo by Donna Olson, U.S. Forest Service.
Wetland plants and a high water table during the summer season at Bog Lake Fen in Minnesota. Photo by Donna Olson, U.S. Forest Service.

Peatlands accumulate carbon because of waterlogged, low-oxygen (anoxic) conditions that favor plant production over decomposition. With climate change, these carbon-rich systems could become lesser sinks for carbon or even potentially sources of carbon that would further exacerbate climate change. Anoxic conditions also allow for the formation of methane (CH4), a greenhouse gas that has 25 times (on a 100-year time horizon) the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2). We directly measured gas exchange between peatland and atmosphere year-round using the eddy covariance technique, which is continuous, fast-response, large-scale, and noninvasive. Ongoing monitoring of CO2 exchange (beginning June 2006) and CH4 emissions (beginning April 2009) have captured dramatic changes in carbon balance. In summer 2011, record high temperatures plus a high water table caused extended warming (2+ meters deep) in the peat column, resulting in CH4 emissions 2.5 times greater than other study years. Summer 2011 also recorded the longest period of net uptake of CO2. Climate changes to spring/autumn seasons and precipitation patterns have also altered carbon production and decomposition. The annual carbon budget for Bog Lake Fen in Minnesota, where measurements overlap, showed CH4 contributed significantly (23 to 39%) and based on the global warming potential of each gas, CH4 easily offsets the CO2 sequestration.


Products & Resources:

Linking Land Use to Great Lakes water quality

Research helps prioritize investment of restoration dollars by predicting which watersheds will contribute to impaired water quality

Researchers used satellite information along with forest inventory data to predict total phosphorus (A) and turbidity (B) in Great Lakes streams draining into Lake Michigan.
Researchers used satellite information along with forest inventory data to predict total phosphorus (A) and turbidity (B) in Great Lakes streams draining into Lake Michigan.

Watersheds have an important influence on water quality and watershed characteristics can be used to predict stream water quality. Forest Service scientists used novel information---derived from the Landsat data archive describing forest canopy cover change, along with forest inventory data and existing land cover data---to predict total phosphorus and turbidity in Great Lakes streams draining into Lakes Superior and Michigan. In the Lake Superior basins, phosphorus output increased with the amount of land used for agriculture, recent forest disturbance, and persisting forest cover; turbidity measurements increased with recent forest disturbance, the amount of land in agriculture, persisting forest, and urban land. In the basins draining into Lake Michigan, phosphorus output was related to ecoregion, increased with urban land, and decreased with older forest disturbance and watershed storage; turbidity measurements increased in some ecoregions and with recent forest disturbance, and decreased as the amount of conifer forest increased. Forest Service scientists used these relationships to identify and prioritize restoration areas in watersheds without observed in-stream data. This prioritization of watersheds will aid effective management of the Great Lakes Watershed and result in efficient use of restoration funds, leading to improved near-shore water quality.


Products & Resources:

National Maps of Forest Carbon Stocks from FIA Data

Raster maps facilitate regional analysis and reporting

A depiction of estimated carbon density (Mg/ha) in forested ecosystems in conterminous United States, 2001-2009 created using FIA data.
A depiction of estimated carbon density (Mg/ha) in forested ecosystems in conterminous United States, 2001-2009 created using FIA data.

The United States has been providing national-scale estimates of forest carbon stocks and stock change to meet the reporting requirements of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Although these currently are provided as national estimates by carbon pool and by year to meet greenhouse gas monitoring requirements, there is growing need to separate these estimates into finer scales so that strategic forest management and monitoring activities can be focused on various ecosystem services such as carbon storage enhancement. Through application of a nearest-neighbor imputation approach, spatially extant estimates of forest carbon density were developed for the conterminous U.S. by Forest Service scientists using FIA annual forest inventory data. Comparisons among imputed maps indicate strong regional differences across carbon pools. The carbon density of pools related to detritus input is often highest in forests suffering from recent mortality events such as those in the northern Rocky Mountains. In contrast, live-tree carbon density is often highest on the highest quality forest sites such as those found in the Pacific Northwest. Forest inventory plot maps provide an efficient and flexible approach to monitoring diverse carbon pools at national and regional scales while allowing timely incorporation of empirical data.


Products & Resources:

Effectiveness of Landowner Assistance Activities

Forest Service's Forest Stewardship Program Examined

Woodland owners and community conservation volunteers learn from a private consulting forester, state service forester, and University of Massachusetts extension forester about management options in the field. Photo by David Kittredge, University of Massachusetts Amherst, used with permission.
Woodland owners and community conservation volunteers learn from a private consulting forester, state service forester, and University of Massachusetts extension forester about management options in the field. Photo by David Kittredge, University of Massachusetts Amherst, used with permission.

The Family Forest Research Center, a joint venture between the U.S. Forest Service Northern Research Station and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, completed a study to evaluate the Forest Service's Forest Stewardship Program (FSP), the nation’s most prominent private forestry assistance program. The team examined FSP using a mixed-methods approach that included analysis of annual FSP accomplishments; a survey of state FSP coordinators; analysis of similarities and differences between assisted and unassisted family forest owners; and focus groups with family forest owners. They found that 1) FSP reaches a small fraction of eligible landowners; 2) states use FSP funds to address local private forest land issues; 3) landowners obtaining assistance commonly associated with FSP (e.g., management plans) differ from others in terms of some socio-demographics, ownership objectives, and land management actions, but not in terms of intent to sell or subdivide forest land; and 4) traditional FSP activities are not influencing inactive family forest owners to become active managers. Based on findings, researchers believe that current practices (e.g., state-level flexibility) help FSP reach its goals; alternative assistance-related efforts may increase the reach of FSP and support strategic goals; and data collection improvements may enrich future FSP evaluations.

Partners

  • Michael A. Kilgore, Stephanie A. Snyder, Marla A. Markowski-Lindsay, Paul F. Catanzaro, David B. Kittredge, Kyle Andrejczyk, Brenton J. Dickinson, Derya Eryilmaz, Jaketon H. Hewes, Paula Randler, & Donna Tadle

Products & Resources:

2012 Research Highlights

First National Inventory Developed of Standing Dead Tree Biomass/Carbon

Estimates of standing dead tree carbon stocks across the conterminous U.S.
Ty Wilson and Christopher Woodall, U.S. Forest Service
Estimates of standing dead tree carbon stocks across the conterminous U.S.

Scientists at the Northern Research Station have developed a nationally consistent and comprehensive inventory of standing dead trees for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Biomass Assessments. The inventory replaces models that were generalizations of regional averages by broad forest types. Instead of missing the impact of disturbances such as droughts and insect outbreaks, their effects on standing dead tree biomass/carbon estimates can now be measured in yearly time-steps as opposed to decades. Additionally, beyond simply counting standing dead trees, emerging research on standing dead-tree wood density reduction and structural deductions improves the accuracy of carbon stock estimates of standing dead trees. Mapping these pools of biomass indicate they are very prevalent in forests of the western United States.

Partners

Mark Harmon, Oregon State University


New NRS Publication Released About Forests of the Northern United States

Cover image of "Forests of the Northern United States"
"Forests of the Northern United States" uses more than 100 maps, graphs, and tables to summarize current conditions and recent trends for the 172 million acres of forest land in the 20 states that make up the Northern United States.

Northern Research Station scientists recently produced "Forests of the Northern United States," a detailed portrait of recent trends and current conditions for the 20 northern states bounded by Maine, Maryland, Missouri, and Minnesota. This assessment of the Nation's most densely forested and most densely populated quadrant presents conditions in terms of eight criteria related to sustainable forests. Details for individual northern states are included in more than 100 maps, graphs, and tables as well as in online data exploration tools. Overarching issues identified for northern forests include interactions of forests and people, managing invasive species, sustaining biodiversity, and sustaining capacity for forest management.

Contact

Stephen Shifley

Partners

Sherri Wormstead, U.S. Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry; Francisco Aguilar and Nianfu Song, University of Missouri

More Information

Shifley, Stephen R.; Aguilar, Francisco X.; Song, Nianfu; Stewart, Susan I.; Nowak, David J.; Gormanson, Dale D.; Moser, W. Keith; Wormstead, Sherri; Greenfield, Eric J. 2012. Forests of the Northern United States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NRS-90. Newtown Square, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station. 202 p.


Downturn in the Forest Products Industry of the United States

The change in forest industry employment from 2005 to 2010 compared to each state's total manufacturing employment in 2005 with each state's circle scaled to its total timberland growing stock volume in 2010, northern region.
Total Manufacturing Employment (thousands), 2005
The change in forest industry employment from 2005 to 2010 compared to each state's total manufacturing employment in 2005 with each state's circle scaled to its total timberland growing stock volume in 2010, northern region.

In recent years, the forest products sector of the United States has been reeling in the wake of the housing collapse, domestic and international financial crises, and the global economic recession of 2007-2009. Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost in the forestry and related sectors of the economy, and wood product output has been reduced to levels not seen in decades. The pattern of the downturn has varied by industry. Globalization of manufacturing and expanded use of electronic media have contributed to a decline in U.S. pulp, paper, and paperboard output since the late 1990s. The collapse of housing construction since 2005 and movement of furniture production off shore have contributed to declines in U.S. wood product output. Northern Research Station scientists have analyzed the downturn, focusing on trends in forest sector economic activity and employment. The analysis points to structural changes that may be difficult to reverse, but also finds some prospects for growth in the future, including increased forest product exports and wood-based biorefining.

Partners

U.S. Forest Service: Ken Skog and Peter Ince, Forest Products Laboratory; Brad Smith, WO RD; Francisco Aguilar, University of Missouri; Don Hodges, University of Tennessee; Charles Keegan and Colin Sorenson, University of Montana


Estimating Tree Volume/Biomass for the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory

Mean difference in tree-level carbon stocks between the Component Ratio Method and Jenkins' approach for tree species in the conterminous U.S.
Kirk Stueve, U.S. Forest Service
Mean difference in tree-level carbon stocks between the Component Ratio Method and Jenkins' approach for tree species in the conterminous U.S.

Nationally consistent and documented procedures for estimating forest volume/ biomass are central to both bioenergy assessments and National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. To fill this need, scientists from the Forest Inventory and Analysis program of the Northern Research Station have documented a national approach to tree volume/biomass estimation (Component Ratio Method), evaluated its output in comparison to past methods, and implemented it in the 2012 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.


2011 Research Highlights

Hurricanes Disturb Non-tree Subtropical Wet Forest Species Composition

[image:]  The Bisley Experimental Watersheds has various fern species, and these are important to forest succession in the Luquillo Experimental Forest.  Photo by Omar Perez Reyes.  Used with permission.Hurricane disturbance caused pronounced and persistent changes in the non-tree species composition of a subtropical wet forest. A unique long-term Forest Service dataset tracked the response and recovery of tropical forest herb, shrub, and vine communities to multiple hurricanes over 21 years on the 13-ha Bisley Experimental Watersheds in the Luquillo Experimental Forest, Puerto Rico. Analysis by Forest Service scientists found that hurricanes had altered non-tree community species composition by promoting the dominance of rapidly spreading ferns and vines.

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These findings contrast sharply with other evidence showing that hurricane effects on the tree community is often negligible over similar time frames. These findings are particularly significant because non-tree species comprise the bulk of forest vascular plant diversity.

Principal Investigator

Alejandro A. Royo

Partner

Tamara Heartsill Scalley U.S. Forest Service, International Institute of Tropical Forestry

More Information

Royo, A.A.; Heartsill Scalley, T.; Moya, S.; Scatena, F.N. 2011. Non-arborescent vegetation trajectories following repeated hurricane disturbance: ephemeral versus enduring responses. Ecosphere 2(7):art77. doi:10.1890/ES11-00118.1.



How Large-scale Forest Conditions Influence Northern Goshawk Nesting

[photo:] Adult goshawk in northern hardwood stand in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin.  Photo courtesy of Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
Efforts to better understand nesting habitat requirements of the northern goshawk, a forest-sensitive species in northern Wisconsin, were enhanced by a collaborative research-management project. Forest Service scientists analyzed 10 years of nest survey data from the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest and found that the key determinant of goshawk nest occurrence was the ratio of conifer cover to aspen-birch cover surrounding a potential nest site.

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The nesting habitat requirements of the northern goshawk, a forest-sensitive species in northern Wisconsin, were analyzed in a research--forest management collaboration. Goshawks are woodland raptors that use a variety of forest types for nesting, making it difficult to determine nesting habitat requirements at the regional level. The hawks are associated with mature forests with large trees and open understories but may select nesting locations as close as possible to foraging habitats. Forest Service scientists in partnership with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest examined how landscape-scale forest composition and road density at several different distances from nest sites and random locations throughout the forest influenced goshawk nesting presence. Nest survey and monitoring data from 1997 to 2006 indicate greater conifer and less aspen-birch cover, and fewer primary roads are in the area surrounding nests. The key driver is the ratio of conifer cover to aspen-birch cover surrounding a potential nest site. These results are extremely useful in sustaining populations throughout the forest.

Principal Insectigator

Deahn Donner-Wright

Partners

Forest Service partners: Dan Eklund and Matthew StPierre, National Forest System, Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, Wisconsin
External partner: Dean Anderson, Landcare Research, New Zealand



Tropical Wetlands Found To Be Among Largest Carbon Pools on Earth

[photo:] Giant tree.  Photo by J. Boone Kauffman, US Forest Service Northern Research StationIn spite of the well known values and ecosystem services of tropical wetlands to biodiversity, fisheries, water quality and storm protection, few studies have examined the carbon stocks of these ecosystems or the carbon dynamics related to land cover change. Although it is abundantly clear that tropical wetlands, especially peat swamps and mangroves, are important in global C cycling, tremendous uncertainties exist about how they are changing, and their potential as a source and sink of greenhouse gasses. This information is greatly needed to better understand the global role of these ecosystems as well as for monitoring, reporting and verification in proposed programs for reducing deforestation or degradation as mitigation strategies to climate change.

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Carbon pools of coastal wetlands are poorly described at present and their potential role in climate change mitigation strategies is especially important. Forest Service scientists working with international colleagues have found that, mangroves have among the largest carbon stocks of any tropical forest. They assessed above- and below-ground carbon pools in 25 mangrove sites across Micronesia, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, comprising about 40% of the global area covered by this ecosystem. As land cover change rates are the highest in mangroves of any tropical forest type, greenhouse gas emissions may be as high as 10% of that of the total from tropical deforestation.

Principal Investigator

J. Boone Kauffman

Partners

Forest Service partners: Daniel C. Donato, Pacific Southwest Research Station; Matthew Warren, Northern Research Station; Melanie Stidham, International Programs
External partners: Daniel Murdiyarso and Sofyan Kurnianto, Center For International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia; Markku Kanninen, University of Helsinki, Finland

More Information

Kauffman, J.B.; Heider, C.; Cole, T.; Dwire, K.A.; Donato, D.C. 2011. Ecosystem carbon stocks of micronesian mangrove forests. Wetlands 31:343–352.

Donato, D.C.; Kauffman, J.B.; Murdiyarso, D.; Kurnianto, S.; Stidham, M.; Kanninen, M. 2011. Carbon-rich tropical mangroves and climate change mitigation in a time of rising seas, Nature Geosciences Vol. 4 May 2011.



Forest Land Estimates Improved by Novel Automated Mapping Technique Using Winter Satellite Imagery

[image:] Comparison of forest land estimates in the western Great Lakes from FIA plots, vegetation change tracker without (VCT), and with snow-covered winter satellite imagery (VCTw). (LLSB = lower Lake Superior basin, ULMB = upper Lake Michigan basin, and LLMB = lower Lake Michigan basin)New satellite-based estimates are consistent with those from FIA plot-based data and suitable for filling the gaps between FIA plots

Most automated satellite-based approaches for mapping forest lands rely on summer satellite imagery and are usually inconsistent with FIA plot-based estimates. Incorporating winter imagery in the mapping approach helps reduce the abundant false positives for forest and forest disturbance that frequently occur during the growing season, especially where forest is intermixed with wetland and agricultural landscapes. Reliable estimates of forest lands between FIA field plots allow customers the opportunity to explore forest dynamics more confidently beyond the grid of FIA plots.

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Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) plot data provide invaluable information about the distribution and health of our nation’s forests to scientists and the public alike. Forest Service scientists found that winter satellite imagery with the vegetation change tracker (VCT) could generate more reliable estimates of forest lands in the western Great Lakes area. These VCT data were consistent with those from FIA plots. The VCT is an automated forest mapping algorithm that exploits the Landsat archive to produce comprehensive maps of forest changes and is well-suited for filling in data gaps between FIA plots. Using winter imagery exploited sharp seasonal contrasts of forested and nonforested areas and enabled the removal of most false positives, providing an efficient and reliable option for filling in gaps between FIA plots. False positives for forest and forest disturbance are a serious problem for the gaps in many FIA data grids, especially in intermixed forest and wetland and agricultural landscapes.

 

Principal Investigators

Kirk M. Stueve, Patrick L. Zimmerman, Mark D. Nelson, Charles H. (Hobie) Perry, and Dale D. Gormanson, Northern Research Station, Forest Inventory and Analysis

Partners

Forest Service Partners: Ian W. Housman, Jeremy B. Webb, and Robert A. Chastain, Remote Sensing Applications Center; Sean P. Healey, Rocky Mountain Research Station; and Warren B. Cohen, Pacific Northwest Research Station
External Partners: Chengquan Huang, University of Maryland, Department of Geography



2010 Research Highlights

Shrubland birds and their habitats

[image:] Cover of Forest Resources on the United States 2007Populations of shrubland birds all over North America have decreased to historical lows, causing great concern among managers, researchers, and the birding public. Birds are highly valued by Americans. According to a recent USFWS report, 20% of the US population is interested in bird watching, thus spending 85 billion dollars and creating over 800,000 jobs. Unfortunately, 13 percent of the world’s birds are threatened with extinction in the near future. Shrubland birds require constant management, and thus, the need for reliable knowledge to guide management efforts is acute.

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NRS researchers David King and Mariko Yamasaki are working to answer critical management questions such as (1) How effective is silviculture, fuels reduction, and prescribed fire in shrubland bird conservation? (2)Do urbanization and invasive plants affect shrubland birds? (3) How much shrubland habitat exists and who is responsible for its management? and (4) Does shrubland management affect mature forest birds? King and Yamasaki have also been active in educating and federal land managers as well as extension personnel, who are often the first to receive questions from homeowners and private forest landowners.

Partners

UMass Amherst; White Mountain National Forest; MassWildlife; Connecticut DEP; NRCS; Northeast Utilities Foundation; Massachusetts Audubon Society



Wolf recovery and the future of Wisconsin’s forests: A trophic link?

[image:] Average loss of select seedlings in FIA plots after five years of wolf occupancy. Solid bars represent high-wolf-occupancy plots (areas occupied for 8-11 of the past 11 years). Oak seedlings are both browse sensitive and subject to high browsing pressure by white-tailed deer. Red maple seedlings are also subject to high browsing pressure but are less sensitive to browsing. Sugar maple is relatively browsing-insensitive and subject to moderate browse pressure.
Overabundant white-tailed deer populations have serious negative effects on understory plant community structure and composition. Wolves, which are top predators of deer, have been recolonizing central Wisconsin since the early 1990s. NRS scientist Keith Moser and partners from the University of Georgia are measuring trophic cascade effects, that is, whether wolves are reducing local browse intensity by white-tailed deer and thus mitigating the biotic impoverishment of understory plant communities.

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Wisconsin DNR wolf territory data combined with Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data were used to develop a landscape-level spatially explicit analysis protocol in FIA plots categorized as high wolf impact areas and low wolf impact areas. : Preliminary results suggest that seedling survival of preferred, browse- sensitive seedlings is higher in areas continuously occupied by wolf packs.

Partners

Ramana Callan and Nathan P. Nibbelink, University of Georgia, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Athens, GA



Urban Tree Canopy Assessment Program

[image:] Urban Tree Canopy landcover map Despite millions of dollars spent each year by federal, state, and local governments on remote sensing datasets, decision makers sometimes still find that they lack basic information about their community’s tree canopy because these datasets have not been converted into practical, readily interpretable information. In the Urban Tree Canopy (UTC) Assessments Program, NRS scientist Morgan Grove, with a partner from the University of Vermont’s Spatial Analysis Laboratory, has developed advanced processing techniques that to help fill this information gap.

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They have provided new land-cover maps that are 900 times more detailed than existing datasets. These assessment have been completed for over 30 communities in the United States and Canada. The UTC Assessment Program has been recognized for its outreach activities by the Association of Natural Resourced Educational Professionals and for its use of advanced image processing algorithms by Nobel Laureate Dr. Gerd Binnig.

 

Partner

Jarlath O’Neil Dunne, University of Vermont



Housing growth in and near protected areas

[image:] Housing growth rate 1940-2000 within 50 km of each nNational fForest, nNational pPark, and wWilderness zArea within the conterminous United States (photo by . Photo Credit: Susan I. Stewart). America’s public lands include some of the most scenic and highly valued resources in the country and thus attract nearby housing growth. NRS researcher Susan Stewart and cooperators at the University of Wisconsin and Oregon State University analyzed housing data from 1940 to 2030, within and surrounding each national park, national forest and wilderness area.

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They found that 28 million new housing units had been built within 50 km of protected areas and that 40,000 new houses were added within national forest boundaries. During the 1990s, housing growth averaged 13 percent nationally, but grew at 20 percent within 1 km of protected areas. If these long-term trends persist, another 17 million housing units will be built within 50 km of protected areas by 2030, greatly diminishing their conservation value. Concern about the integrity of protected areas has focused on developing nations, where resource use pressure taken off a protected area can intensify pressure on surrounding lands. In the U.S., our demands on resources are typically for scenic vistas and proximity to trails; this research alerts resource managers, state and local planning authorities, and conservationists that when houses are built to satisfy these amenity demands, forests are fragmented, habitat lost, migration corridors disrupted, and biodiversity reserves isolated.

 

Partners

Volker C. Radeloff, Anna M. Pidgeon, Urs Gimmi, and David P. Helmers, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Roger B. Hammer, Oregon State University; Todd J. Hawbaker, USGS; Curtis H. Flather, RMRS



2009 Research Highlights

Tree species distributions are responding to climate change

[image:] three maps of Eastern United States - show distribution of seedling observations, tree observations, mean seedling latitude, mean tree latitude, and Little's historic tree range for three species: tamarack, silver maple, northern pin oak
Changes in tree species distributions are a potential impact of climate change on forest ecosystems. Although NRS scientists have already examined this possibility with computer modeling, real-world examination of this possibility has been limited due to a lack of consistent annual forest inventories across the United States. However, the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program of the U.S. Forest Service, has now provided such inventories, and NRS scientists are now actually testing climate change hypotheses.

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NRS scientists Christopher Woodall, Charles Perry, James Westfall, and their partners compared the current geographic distributions of tree seedlings to biomass for species in the eastern U.S. using the FIA inventory. If, indeed, northern latitude forests are most affected by warming temperatures, then one would expect tree seedlings to be farther north than their counterpart mature trees. The study found that compared to mean latitude of tree biomass, mean latitude of seedlings was significantly farther north (> 20 km) for many northern study species. Density of seedlings relative to tree biomass of northern tree species was nearly 10 times higher in northern latitudes compared to southern. It is hypothesized that as northern (for example, paper birch) and southern tree species populations together migrate northward due to greater regeneration success at higher latitudes, generalized species (for example, red maple) may fill their vacated niches in southern locations. The results of this study suggest that the process of northward tree migration in the eastern United States is currently under way for numerous species at rates approaching 100 km/century.

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Partners

  • C.M. Oswalt, U.S. Forest Service, Southern Research Station
  • A.O. Finley, Michigan State University, Department of Forestry


Updating information on forest resources

[image:] Cover of Forest Resources on the United States 2007Northern Research Station (NRS) Forest Inventory and Analysis researchers, Patrick Miles, Charles Perry, Scott Pugh, and Ron Piva, in cooperation with FIA staff from the Southern, Northern, Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest Stations, and Washington Office, updated U.S. forest resource statistics from the 2002 Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment to provide information on the nation’s forests for 2007.

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The resource tables they prepared provide estimates of forest area, volume, mortality, growth, removals, and timber products output presented in various ways, such as by ownership, region, or state. Current resource data and trends are analyzed and placed within the context of changes since 1953. Additional analyses look at the resource from an ecological, health, and productivity perspective. A mini-atlas of map plates includes national displays of forest type, ownership, biomass, fragmentation, and other key spatial elements. An interactive RPA Data Wiz CD is also included to provide user access to the resource data.

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Partners

  • W. Brad Smith, U.S. Forest Service, Washington Office


Data informs energy policy debates

[image:] Area of land by county under alternative biomass for energy bills, based on latest FIA data.  Map by BArry Wilson, U.S. Forest Service.Northern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) scientists provided the Forest Service Washington Office’s Legislative Affairs staff with a series of data summaries and maps. This information helped the Legislative Affairs staff demonstrate to lawmakers the important contribution that National Forest System (NFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands could make to the renewable energy portfolios of the United States.

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The initial response quantified and visually depicted the forested acres open to biomass for energy production in each state under the 2007 Energy Bill and 2008 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill definition was limited to nonfederal lands and the Energy Bill definition further limited production to plantations. These initial products clearly demonstrated the lack of opportunity in the West due to the exclusion of federal lands. The next response quantified the lost opportunities on National Forest System, BLM, and other Federal lands. Then finally, as part of a broader effort, NRS FIA researchers provided information on stand age, status, growth, and harvests to help inform legislative compromise language that would include NFS and BLM lands that were not latesuccessional/ mature. The NRS information was a classic example of timely use of findings to help inform sound forest policy. NRS scientists Barry Wilson, Patrick Miles, John Vissage, and Mark Hansen participated in this effort.

Partners

  • FIA units of the Southern, Rocky Mountain, Pacific Northwest, and Pacific Southwest Research Stations
  • FIA Washington Office staff


Great Plains Initiative -- Preparing for emerald ash borer

[image:] Approximate locations of the Great plains iniative Nonforest Tree Inventory plots; data from 1,200 plots were collected during the summer of 2008, and several hundred more during the summer of 2009.The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) National Inventory and Monitoring Applications Center (NIMAC), in partnership with cooperators from state forestry agencies in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, processed data from a nonforest tree inventory aimed at assessing the potential impact of the emerald ash borer (EAB) and other factors on the states’ tree resources.

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Tree and site data were collected from about 1,200 nonforest plots during the summer of 2008. During the summer of 2009, several hundred additional plots were established with a focus on urban areas and windbreaks. Initial results from 2008 data indicate that the proportion of ash trees in nonforest areas is more than double that in forested areas and that the total number of ash trees is much larger as well. Relationships between species composition, site factors, and ownership are being assessed so that managers can better understand how to confront EAB and tree management issues in nonforested areas. Some of the study results were published in South Dakota’s Forest Resources, 2007. Andrew Lister was the lead researcher for this initiative.

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Partners

  • States of Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, and South Dakota


2008 Research Highlights

Database summarizes characteristics of private and corporate forest-owners

[photo:] Private landowner speaks with Forest Service representative.More than 50 percent of forested lands in the United States are owned by private citizens and corporations. A Northern Research Station publication and database makes it easier to understand who these owners are and how they use their land.

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Family Forest Owners of the United States, 2006” is the first comprehensive analysis of family- and corporate-owned forests in more than a decade. Data can be accessed on a state-by-state basis to better understand private forest characteristics, ownership objectives and future intentions, as well as issues and concerns.

Current analysis indicates that private forests are not being managed in a sustainable manner, despite many of the owners’ good intentions. With this detailed understanding, public land managers can develop programs and resources tailored to meet the needs of these significant land-holders, and thereby improve the overall health of all America’s forests.

Partners

  • USFS Forest Inventory and Analysis in cooperation with USFS State and Private Forestry, federal and state agencies, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and, of course, the landowners.


Improved online databases enable customized reports for natural resource partners

Forest Inventory Data Online (FIDO) catalogs the vast holdings of forest data collected over decades, and puts it at the fingertips of natural resource partners and the public. The improved database, developed by Northern Research Station Forest Inventory and Analysis scientists, allows users to create custom reports on the forest resources of the United States. This web based interactive tool provides easy and quick access to the latest FIA data for a wide range of users, including public and private land managers, planners and researchers who need the latest forest resource information.

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This database is also compatible with other forest inventory tools. For example, data from an ongoing inventory designed by The National Inventory & Monitoring Applications Center (NIMAC) and conducted by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources was integrated with FIDO. The alteration of FIDO to fit Wisconsin’s data not only provided the state with the ability to conduct their own queries using FIA methodology, but it also accelerated the development of FIDO thus benefiting other FIA customers. In several midwest states, NIMAC and FIA staff designed an inventory of trees in non-forest areas, adapted data recorder software, trained the crews, and facilitated the data collection effort, which finished its first season this summer (2008). In Maryland, NIMAC staff developed a stand-based imagery classification methodology and transferred the methodology as well as input data to state Department of Natural Resources staff. Maryland is using the techniques to independently conduct analysis of natural resources in new areas, using skills and methods acquired from working with NIMAC.


2007 Research Highlights

State and regional carbon estimates now available for U.S. Forests

[image:] Map of biomass in contiguous U.S. NRS researchers produced a tool that uses data from the Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program to produce state-level estimates of forest carbon stocks and net changes, beginning in the base year 1990.

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Summing the state estimates, which are consistent with standard international carbon estimation methodologies, results in the national-level forest estimates reported in the official greenhouse gas statistics of the United States. The software, user’s guide, and example data sets are available online at http://nrs.fs.fed.us/carbon/tools/.

Partner

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Monitoring network helps Wisconsin Maintain its sustainable forest certification

[image:] shows mapp with plots identifiedTo establish a monitoring network on Wisconsin’s state-owned forest lands, NRS Forest Inventory and Analysis scientists developed a fractal-based technique to create spatially balanced networks of sample plots. The technique assures an even distribution of plots across the forest and over time.

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The scientists worked with state employees to develop a field manual and software that allow analysis of the monitoring data collected. This monitoring network will help Wisconsin maintain forest certification on more than 500,000 acres and detect invasive plant species. Other states, including Indiana, are adopting the methods and tools developed in Wisconsin.

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  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


Better monitoring for less cost on the Mark Twain National Forest

[photo:] View from Mina Sauk Falls -n Mark Twain National ForestNRS scientists worked collaboratively with the Mark Twain National Forest to investigate ways to provide inventory and monitoring information. Each National Forest must develop a monitoring plan to track the implementation and effectiveness of its forest plan.

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The Forest used a Forest Inventory and Analysis inventory and monitoring tool to link the plan’s desired conditions, objectives, and monitoring questions to metrics that answer vegetation related questions. Of particular interest were movement toward desired forest condition, oak decline, restoration of natural forest types, forest fuels, effects of prescribed burning, non-native species, species richness, wildlife habitat, tree regeneration, growth, removals, mortality, biomass, and carbon. This new monitoring plan improved the Mark Twain National Forest staff’s knowledge base for making land management decisions and reduced projected monitoring costs.

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  • Mark Twain National Forest