Long-Term Monitoring is Key to Understanding Forest Ecosystem Resilience

Beginning in the 1970’s, researchers at Coweeta began an experiment that sought to quantify how much different forest ecosystem processes would shift after a disturbance, and how quickly they would bounce back to their pre-disturbance state. The team clear-cut trees from an entire watershed in the study region and constructed new logging roads to simulate the typical timber harvest methods of the time. Their goal was to examine ecological resistance and resilience across a suite of ecosystem properties–including streamflow, stream nitrogen exports, soil carbon and nutrients, forest and streambed species composition, and macroinvertebrate communities—in the harvested watershed compared to a non-harvested control site.

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Source: Jackson et al. 2018. Unexpected ecological advances made possible by long‐term data: A Coweeta example. WIREs. DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1273