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Published on: Feb. 17, 2011

Botany Crew Member Taking Data Measurements

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well, on the trees the bird lives in, on the insects the bird eats, the plants those insects eat, the soil those plants thrive in, the bacteria and microorganisms that maintain that soil, and the landscape in which all of this is nestled.

The MOFEP experiment, therefore, seeks to integrate multiple aspects of an Ozark forest ecosystem, including biotic (living) and abiotic (nonliving) components, in as many as 30 independent studies that are integrated together in one research design. MOFEP focuses on these pieces from a landscape perspective; changes will be analyzed as they occur throughout a 1,000-acre site, not just where a harvest occurs. By measuring site-wide data for each harvest treatment and then comparing it with the data from the no-harvest sites, researchers can deduce the effects timber harvests have on the forest ecosystem and its parts.

Each block of three sites makes up its own experimental unit and thus presents an opportunity for comparing each of the three units’ individual results. The experiment is set up as an adaptive one, as insights emerge through the life of the experiment, resource managers can adjust management practices and methods can change, such as harvest frequency, survey methods or even research focus.

MOFEP places a magnifying glass over this generation’s use of the forest, which also reflects that of the last generation. Data from MOFEP show that even without timber harvests, Ozark forests are changing.

The MOFEP sites, like most of the Missouri Ozarks, are second-growth forests, a repercussion of the area’s turn-of-the-20th-century vast timber harvests, in which first shortleaf pine, and then oaks and hickories, were heavily cut. Because the forest essentially re-sprouted from this early 20th-century clear-cut, most of MOFEP’s mature trees were 60 to 80 years old at the project’s inception in 1989. Faster-growing red oak group species like black oak and scarlet oak (24 and 21 percent of all trees on MOFEP land, respectively) now dominate the forest, and, in accordance with typical 100-year lifespans of the red oak group, are nearing maturity. Among younger trees, however, white oak trees dominate the forest (currently 21 percent of all trees in MOFEP). White oak trees number nearly twice that of black and scarlet oak, because they grow better in shade.

The disappearance of trees in the red oak group could affect wildlife as well as timber. Although red oaks flower every year, it takes two years for

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