Smithsonian grant allows UW-Green Bay researchers to continue forest study

GREEN BAY — The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is the recipient of a $20,000 grant from the Smithsonian Institution to continue research on a large scale and long-term forest study plot located in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest near Crandon.

The Wabikon Forest Dynamics Project will employ at least eight UW-Green Bay students during summer 2009. At least five other student researchers will conduct field studies at the site through independent studies or graduate projects. Work on the Smithsonian grant will continue through December 2009.

The study is part of an ambitious initiative to establish large, permanent forest research sites around the world coordinated by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, which is dedicated to understanding global biological diversity. The Institute’s Center for Tropical Forest Science has established an international network of forest research plots, in all climates, aimed at understanding tropical and temperate forest function and diversity.

The Wabikon Forest plot is one of more than 30 areas worldwide being studied to:

• increase scientific understanding of forest ecosystems

• inform sustainable forest management and natural-resource policy

• and build capacity for forest science research by providing baseline data and training skilled field researchers.

UW-Green Bay researchers will identify, measure and mark all trees and shrubs larger than one centimeter in diameter within the 25-hectare (62-acre) plot and map them into a Global Information Systems database for comparison with other forest areas around the world.

The Wabikon Forest study area is located within one of the largest contiguous areas of temperate forests in the world.

The study of the 25-hectare plot began in 2008. Within that year, researchers collected core data on 14.6 hectares. The grant will fund the research to finish data collection on the remaining 10.4 hectares.

Research thus far as counted more than 52,600 trees and shrubs, consisting of 32 species.

The Wabikon Forest site is located about 6 miles east of Crandon.

Leading researchers on the project are UW-Green Bay Prof. Amy Wolf, Natural and Applied Sciences; Prof. Bob Howe, Natural and Applied Sciences and Director of the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity; and UW-Green Bay Cofrin Arboretum Botanist Gary Fewless.

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