OPS 4-5
Linking forests to soils at a national scale – Uses and misuses of FIA’s forest soil inventory

Thursday, August 8, 2013
Exhibit Hall B, Minneapolis Convention Center
Charles H. Perry, Forest Inventory and Analysis, USDA Forest Service, St. Paul, MN
Michael C. Amacher, Rocky Mountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Logan, UT

The USDA Forest Service’s Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA) has been sampling the forest soils of the United States with consistent protocols since 2000. In contrast to field plots established by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, this data is significant for its explicit focus on forested landscapes. To date, over 6500 plots have been visited yielding more than 5000 samples of forest floor and 4000 samples of shallow mineral soil (0-20 cm). The power of this sample is extended by virtue of its colocation with traditional forest inventory observations.


These samples have been used to conduct several different forest health assessments, briefly outlined on this poster. These include: soil compaction associated with forest management, soil carbon stocks in the forest floor and shallow mineral soil, mercury accumulations in the forest floor, linkages between soil nutrient availability and sugar maple health throughout its range, yellow birch decline in the Appalachian Mountains, changes in soil chemistry related to aspen decline in the Intermountain West, soil nutrition and forest growth rates, and linkages between C, N, and S chemistry in forest soils. To conclude, the USDA Forest Service has a rich database of forest soil observations at points distributed across the United States. Current research work focuses on turning these point observations into continuous surfaces of use to the ecological modeling community.