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Science-Based Conservation

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Published on: Aug. 15, 2012

used science to guide their work. They are leaders in their respective fields and are frequently invited to other states and even other countries to help solve complex conservation problems,” says Kruse.

LONG-TERM MONITORING

Long-term monitoring of Missouri’s natural resources is foundational to understanding biological trends and forms the basis of the Department’s science-based conservation efforts.

“The Department’s biologists and foresters have countless long-term monitoring efforts underway, many of them with decades or more of historical data,” says Kruse. “This information allows us to track the status of fish, forest and wildlife resources and do a better job of managing them in the future.”

Missouri’s biggest outdoor laboratory is the forest itself, where a 100-year study is now underway. Launched in 1990, the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP) is monitoring how different management practices affect a more than 9,000-acre expanse of Ozark forest. “Forests operate on a different time scale than people. To understand them, you have to work on their time scale. The longer we stay with our study, the better we will understand how to sustainably manage Ozark forests,” says MOFEP Field Coordinator Randy Jensen.

MOFEP seeks to answer how different forest management practices influence abundance and reproductive success of birds, tree growth, species composition and regeneration, and how much carbon Ozark forests sequester. This collaborative research project involves biologists and foresters from the Department, U.S. Forest Service, the University of Missouri, Missouri Department of Natural Resources and numerous other agencies and universities. Learn more at mofep.mdc.mo.gov.

“This is an ambitious project unlike anything else of its kind,” says MDC State Forester Lisa Allen. “The more we learn, the better job we can do at managing Missouri’s forests. Since forests are always evolving and changing, that’s where we need to be—using the forest as a classroom, to study it in real-time.”

Long-term monitoring also helps biologists better understand how to manage Missouri’s waters and improve the state’s fisheries. “Thanks to our sciencebased approach to conservation, we now have a much deeper understanding of how our natural resources function,” says Bob Hrabik, a MDC biologist specializing in fish taxonomy and natural history.

“In the Department’s early years, checking the catch of an angler—called a creel census—was a primary way to keep tabs on fish populations. Over time, science-based techniques and technology have evolved, offering today’s Department biologists a much broader range of tools and methods to survey and

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