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Wabikon Forest Dynamics Plot

The Wabikon Forest Dynamics Plot is a 25.2 ha (62 acre) scientific research area in the Wabikon Lake State Natural Area within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest east of Crandon, Wisconsin. This ambitious project is funded by the Cofrin Center for Biodiversity through the generous support of The 1923 Fund, with additional funding from the Smithsonian Institution and the HSBC Climate Partnership. The Wabikon plot is part of a global network of forest research sites committed to the study of tropical and temperate forest function and diversity, led by the Smithsonian's Center for Tropical Forest Science (CTFS). The multi-institutional network comprises more than forty forest research plots across the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe, with a strong focus on tropical regions. Principal investigators of the Wabikon Forest Dynamics plot are Robert Howe, Amy Wolf, and CCB Herbarium Curator Gary Fewless, with support from US Forest Service Ecologist Linda Parker and USFS Biologist Steven Janke, who also are UW-Green Bay graduates.

The first census of the Wabikon Forest Dynamics Plot in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest was completed on 15 October 2009, producing a database with 58,658 records representing 48,849 live trees. All trees in the plot have been mapped, tagged, and measured; future census, scheduled at 5 year intervals, will provide information about ecological succession, forest regeneration, and natural disturbance patterns in a typical northern hardwoods forest of the western Great Lakes region. Field crews consisting of students and staff from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay completed the first census during the summers of 2008 and 2009, after a professional engineering contractor (REI Engineering of Wausau, Wisconsin) established the plot grid in October-November 2007.

Although the project is in its very early stages, several publications and student theses already have been produced from field data acquired at the Wabikon Forest Dynamics Plot. Several additional manuscripts are in progress, including a comprehensive "plot book" describing the history of the site, field methods, tree species accounts, maps, and quantitative data from the first plot census. In addition to scientific publications, the Wabikon Forest Dynamics plot has provided field research experience for at least 33 UW-Green Bay students and part-time employment for 22 of these. Science courses at UW-Green Bay have used data from the plot for laboratory exercises and classroom projects. In winter 2009, for example, students from a course in Mammalogy (and others) conducted a survey of mammal tracks at the plot. Applications of results in classroom and individualized instruction will only increase as new and ongoing projects add to the foundation established during this reporting period.