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Forest Field Trip Report

For this study, we will be taking a trip to the Merwin


Nature Preserve - Parklands Foundation in order to determine if
the forest is healthy or not. The Parkland Foundation protects
and ecologically restores natural lands in the middle and upper
parts of Mackinaw Valley watershed. The main function of these
preserves is to sustain the diversity of wildlife, public
recreation and for educational and scientific research. The
nature preserve is right off the Mackinaw River, which provides a
large source of water for the native wildlife. Hunting, fishing,
canoeing, and hiking are common throughout the area, so there is
presence of human activity. Deer, turkeys, squirrels, and doves
are some of the few species of wildlife that live in the area.

White oaks, black oaks, chinkapin oaks, sugar maples, red

oaks, and sycamores can been found in the preserve.

As shown above, the temperature peaks through June, July and


August while the precipitation rate peaks during May
Aldo Leopold believed that land sickness occurred when
there was reduced vegetation cover and soil erosion. The
utilitarian definition of a healthy forest would be one with no
diseases, pollution, pests, and other influences that threaten
the objectives of management. However, the ecological perspective
is to have a fully functioning community of plants and animals
and their physical environment (Wagner). There also needs to be
specific types and rates of the ecological processes, as well as
the numbers and arrangement of structural elements to
characterize diverse and productive forest ecosystems. Forests
also have to be free from distress syndrome. This syndrome is
characterized by reduced primary productivity, loss of nutrient

capital, loss of biodiversity, increased fluctuations in key


populations, retrogression (returning to an earlier state) in
biotic structure, and widespread incidence (the rate of disease)
and the severity.
We will be answering the questions: Does this location
represent a healthy forest and is the natural environment
healthy? In order to answer these questions, our group will be
taking a soil sample to find the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus,
and potassium in our section of the woods as well as recording
the diversity of plant and animal life. We will also be
collecting the information recorded from the other groups to get
the overall score. For our group, Lexie and Greer located and
identified the different plants and animals while Caitlyn and
Kayleen had taken the soil sample and determined the levels of
the chemicals. Lexie and Greer will also be determining the
Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) of the trees found in the
quadrant. By finding the DBH, the group can determine the
approximate age of the trees, thus determining the succession and
diversity in age.
The trip was on October 30th, 2015. The wind was a 0 on the
beaufort scale. There was no cloud cover and our area had 40%
canopy cover. Our 10x10 quadrant was flat. There was no obvious
evidence of humans in our quadrant. What we found during the trip
showed that there was biodiversity in our quadrant. There were

three bird sightings, two of which were Downy Woodpeckers and one
was a red capped woodpecker. The exact species of trees in our
quadrant were difficult to identify since all of the leaves on
their branches had fallen. However the group was able to identify
the leaves that were on the ground found in our quadrant. These
leaves may or may not have come from the quadrant. There were Pin
Oak, Sweet Gum, American Elm, White Oak, and Sugar Maple leaves.

The tables above show the animals seen in each quadrant and the DBH found for every
tree inside them as well. It also shows the density, dominance, and class total for every plant and
animal. For our group (which is highlighted in blue), we had fairly small trees but not very many
insects and animals. However, this could be due to the fact that our section of the forest didnt
have as much cover as other areas. The smaller trees in our area also helped with the amount of
light reaching the ground.
The smaller trees, ranging from 0-5 cm, have a higher density than the larger ones as well
as having a higher dominance. Although there werent a lot of animals or insects around at the
time, the class did come across quite a few different species. The dominance of these organisms
goes to the ants and flies.
In conclusion, this forest was determined healthy. With plenty of wildlife as well as new
growth, this forest can still readily sustain itself. The diversity of the plants and animals proved
there was a healthy ecosystem and plenty of resources to survive. The soil tests also showed
healthy levels of Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. So even though there werent many of
the larger trees, the soil would help the younger trees grow which in turn will help sustain the
insects and animals.

Works Cited
http://dnr.state.il.us/lands/landmgt/parks/r1/mackina.htm