Forests in a Looking Glass

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Published on: Aug. 2, 1996

Last revision: Oct. 25, 2010

right and fall into the pail. Whichever happens, they are trapped, counted, measured and released. This last season 42 species of reptiles and amphibians made the charts, and the workers subsequently measured and released 5,700 individual specimens.


The workers on the reptile and amphibian study also trap small mammals using box traps. They captured 726 individuals representing 6 species, with deer mice and white-footed mice comprising more than 90 percent of the captures. By experimenting with trap design and season, they almost doubled their success rate from the previous year.


A soil scientist, on loan from the Department of Natural Resources, is compiling a detailed soil inventory of the MOFEP sites. He delineates areas of similar soil types based on the material in which the soil developed, the landform and its shape. These units have properties that lend themselves to similar use and management.

Aspect and vegetation types will be added to these units later to develop ecological land types (ELTs). ELTs will become the units for making management decisions and a basis for the analysis of data collected on other projects.

Several studies are concerned with other soil characteristics, such as water flow and nutrient cycling. Cooperators from the University of Missouri, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Missouri Department of Natural Resources have all given help.


The creepy crawlers that eat oak leaves are the focus of the canopy insect study. So far, the scientist on this study has recorded 245 species, mostly moth larvae. By sampling four times per year, he has discovered that few species from one sample will be found in the next. Lab work in this study is determining what parasites of moths exist in the Ozarks that will be natural control agents for the gypsy moth, when it arrives.


Many species of wildlife depend on the annual production of soft mast (berries) and hard mast (acorns and nuts). Two studies in place are collecting data to determine annual production and how it varies by season or growing conditions.

In the hard mast study, 130 plots containing a total of 2,600 traps to catch acorns and nuts are checked weekly from August through January. Technicians identify each acorn by species, determine if it is sound, then weigh each sample. Preliminary analyses show extreme variability in acorn production both from location to location and from year to year.

The soft mast study works closely with the data

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