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Forest in a Looking Glass

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Published on: Dec. 2, 2003

Last revision: Nov. 12, 2010

figure out, so we often judge the character of a multi-aged forest by the presence of different sizes of trees. We have to be careful estimating the age of stands by their diameters and heights, however, because size and age don't always agree.

The Conservation Department is looking to MOFEP to provide valuable lessons to scientists and land managers today, through the life of the project and beyond. Some of the environment and vegetation projects examine genetic variation in plants, the size and species of ground flora and woody plants, soil carbon, soft and hard mast, lichens and fungi. Wildlife studies have looked at amphibians and reptiles, insects in the leaf litter and in the tree canopies, small mammals, and bird communities. Forest management information is coming from studies of tree harvesting, regeneration from stump sprouts and the biology and economics of accidental damage that occurs during timber harvest.

So, what exactly has been going on these past few years? The first measurements were made in 1990. These "pre-treatment" measurements continued with various projects until the first trees were harvested in 1996. Many studies have maintained "post-treatment" data collection up to the present. The next harvests are scheduled for 2011. Clearcutting and thinning affected 26 percent of the total area on sites receiving the even aged management treatment. Selection and group selection harvests affected 57 percent of the total area on sites receiving the uneven-aged treatment.

There are many studies under the MOFEP umbrella today, but we will talk about only a few: birds, amphibians and reptiles, ground flora and lichens.

Songbirds

Dr. John Faaborg of the University of Missouri, Rick Clawson from the Conservation Department and others studied all forest songbirds, but they were especially interested in five species of birds that are found in mature forests (ovenbird, worm-eating warbler, Kentucky warbler, Acadian flycatcher and wood thrush), and with six species that are found in brushy forest openings (blue-winged warbler, hooded warbler, prairie warbler, yellow breasted chat, indigo bunting and white-eyed vireo.) Before the 1996 timber harvest, they collected information on the density and nesting success of the mature-forest species by mapping the locations of singing male birds and finding nests. After the openings were created by the harvest, they also gathered information on both the mature-forest birds and the early successional species. Their goal was to answer two questions: Are these species affected by forest management? And, do

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