Problem: Oaks are keystone species in the woodland and savanna ecosystems of Midwest, USA. However, the current closed canopy structure is limiting regeneration of shade intolerant oaks. Current restoration practices involve canopy manipulation and prescribed fires to increase available light. Soils have profound impacts on forest ecosystem functions, but the effects of canopy manipulation on soil properties and processes are weakly understood.
Goals: The goals of this research are to study canopy thinning and removal for its impacts on: (1) microclimate, (2) vegetation, and (3) soil processes.
Methods: A long-term canopy manipulation study is being conducted in The Morton Arboretum's East Woods. In 2007, canopy removal and thinning treatments (thin, gap, thin+gap, and control) were applied to 24, 250 square meter plot in an oak woodland. Two trees (Quercus alba) and two shrubs (Corylus americana) were planted at random locations as well as transects with oak seedlings within each of the plots. Tree growth is assessed annually on these planted trees as well as existing vegetation. Soils (0-20 cm) are collected annually and characterized for physical, chemical, and biological properties contributing to soil quality. In-situ measurements of soil temperature, soil moisture, radiation, and air temperature are recorded hourly on these plots.
Personnel: This research is led by Dr. Bryant Scharenbroch, Dr. Robert Fahey, Marlin Bowles, and Kurt Dreisilker (The Morton Arboretum).
Funding: Research on this project is funded by The Morton Arboretum. The Grand Victoria Foundation provided funding for the initial canopy manipulation work.
Copyright 2008-2014 - Morton Arboretum Soil Science - MASS laboratory