AFERP provides opportunities for undergraduate research and functions as an in-the-field classroom for forest scientists, university students, and professional forest resource managers. Several undergraduate senior capstone projects have addressed aspects of forest ecology and management in AFERP research areas. In 2002, Lance Case analyzed deadwood data collected using fixed-area sampling on permenant plots to characterize spatial pattern in the deadwood distribution. The dataset was too coarse in spatial resolution to estimate the parameters of spatial dependence required to conduct spatial analysis. Although Lance was unable to generate suitable spatial models, his work helped motivate adoption of line-intercept sampling to replace the fixed-area inventory. Sarah Lemin in 2004 worked on aging naturally-generated canopy gaps (multiple-tree gaps) using radial growth increases (i.e. releases) detected from increment cores taken from trees within gap areas. She concluded that analyzing increment cores for release dates is an effective and nondestructive method for aging natural gaps in AFERP research areas. In spring 2006, the forest operations senior class collaborated on a capstone project looking into the operational feasibility of expanding-gap silviculture for research areas treated with a second experimental entry during winter 2006. What the forest operations students found was that the expanding-gap method is economically feasible and likely more attractive to the small forest landowner. In the spring of 2007, UMaine senior and former AFERP employee Stacy Trosper analyzed data from AFERP’s deadwood inventory of research area 1 to describe the spatial distribution of downed deadwood volume for her Honor’s Thesis. Stacy’s research established a protocol for characterizing the spatial distribution of deadwood, which will provide fodder for developing hypotheses on the ecological importance of sub-stand level structure and its relation to expanding-gap silviculture. Since its inception, AFERP research areas have been used for field trips to inform university students and faculty and professionals about the ecological effects of the expanding-gap method.
Caption: Undergraduate members of the University of Maine student chapter of the Society of American Foresters (SAF) assisting in pre-harvest inventory of AFERP research area 1 in December 2005. The UMaine chapter of SAF has helped with pre-harvest inventories during the winters of 2005 and 2006.