Friday, August 10, 2007 - 8:40 AM

COS 149-3: Reporting the forest ecological integrity of northeastern national parks

Geraldine Tierney1, Brian R. Mitchell2, Don Faber-Langendoen3, and James P. Gibbs1. (1) SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, (2) National Park Service, (3) NatureServe

In 2006, the National Park Service’s Northeast Temperate Network initiated long-term monitoring of forests at 8 park units, from Morristown National Historical Park in New Jersey to Acadia National Park in Maine. The monitoring program is establishing 310 permanent plots that will be visited on a four-year rotation. During each plot visit, researchers collect information about a suite of metrics that collectively assess the ecological integrity of forest resources. The methods and metrics are modified from the US Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis program, and specific metrics address structure (e.g., coarse woody debris volume), composition (e.g., understory exotic species ratio), and function (e.g., acid stress and nitrogen saturation from soil chemistry data). We have established levels for each metric (“Good”, “Caution”, or “Significant Concern”) that are based on acceptable or desired ranges of variation. These levels were derived from knowledge of the natural or historical range of variation for each metric, and they will be reviewed and updated as new information becomes available. A scorecard format will be used to clearly and concisely report the integrity of Northeast Temperate Network forests to multiple audiences, including park managers and decision-makers. We have been collaborating with other eastern NPS Inventory and Monitoring networks and park units, and our model shows promise as a basis for reporting on the ecological integrity of eastern forests.