Monitoring & Next Steps

Researchers at the Second College Grant setting up drones
Researchers at the Second College Grant setting up drones. Photo Credit: Kevin Evans, Dartmouth College

Monitoring:

Monitoring is an essential component of the ASCC study. Research partners from many institutions are working together to investigate the effectiveness of different silvicultural treatments aimed at creating adaptive ecosystems. Some of the monitoring items include: 

  • Natural regeneration of planted seedlings 
  • Residual tree survival and growth 
  • Songbird, small mammals, insects, fungi, and other wildlife community responses 
  • Carbon pools, including living and downed woody materials and forest soils 

Progress & Next Steps:

Stands are marked and measurements on pre-treatment vegetation, carbon, wildlife, and spatial data were collected in the summer of 2017. Harvest was initiated in the late summer and completed by fall of 2017. Project participants will continue tending and monitoring the Second College Grant ASCC site for many years. 

Highlights from 2018:

The Frankenlog: Refining the science and technology of dead wood moisture monitoring

Dr. Dave Lutz, Dartmouth College, installing sensors to data collection board engineered specifically for this study Photo Credit: Chris Woodall, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
Dr. Dave Lutz, Dartmouth College, installing sensors to data collection board engineered specifically for this study. Photo Credit: Chris Woodall, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station 

During the ASCC planning workshop for the Second College Grant installation in the hardwood forests of northern NH, it became apparent that although we expect precipitation to become more episodic in the future, we have very little understanding of how rain events effect the moisture of dead wood over short time steps. Dead and downed wood serves not only as a critical habitat and increases the structural complexity of forests but also may mitigate the overland flow of intense rain events. In contrast, dead wood can serve as sources of fuel during times of drought and extreme fire weather. Given recent advances in micro sensor development and associated data management, the potential exists to extend such technologies to this forest management issue.  

Wiring used to monitor the dead wood moisture
Downed and dead sugar maple log being prepared for deployment of sensor array
Photo Credit: Chris Woodall,
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station
 

In partnership with Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering and Plymouth State University, a downed dead sugar maple log and surrounding soil was monitored at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest with nearly 80 sensors to detect changes in moisture at 15-minute intervals during the summer of 2018. Based on initial findings, the hope is to develop a more streamlined deployment of sensors per log potentially using wireless technology for testing during the summer of 2019 at the Second College Grant ASCC installation.  

As part of the project, numerous trees were intentionally felled and left on-site to evaluate their potential benefits. With a streamlined moisture monitoring technology in hand, we can more fully evaluate the modes by which down dead wood interacts with soil and rain fall events in terms of forest dynamics (e.g., regeneration, production, or fire hazards). Development of efficient dead wood moisture technology could inform wildfire management efforts around the Nation.