Monitoring Vegetation Changes on Altitudinal Transects

December 10th, 2014 by June

In partnership with the Margret and H.A. Rey Center in Waterville Valley over several years, the Center for the Environment monitored vegetation changes along altitudinal transects. This project was established on Mount Tecumseh in Waterville Valley, NH in 2008 and a second transect was established in 2010 on Mount Starr King in Jefferson, NH.

At both sites, both vegetation phenology and microclimate data were collected and used in conjunction with regional meteorological data sets to delineate the vegetation-climate trends of the region. Monitoring when plants undergo annual changes such as leaf budding, developing and losing leaves, and overall growth and comparing these data to climate trends helps to understand the changes that occur in vegetation in response to a changing climate. Conducting the monitoring along a gradient up the mountain helps reveal these changes due to the changes in microclimates with altitude.

At points along the gradient, plots were established and trees identified. Each plot and each tree was visited several times throughout the year to assess vegetation composition and conditions (e.g.presence/absence data, pathology) and several or more times per week, intra-seasonally, during the growing period, to observe and record phenophases of targeted species within each herbaceous plot and of each tagged tree. Concurrently, continuous measurements of air and soil temperature are collected via automated dataloggers placed within fifteen feet of the herbaceous plots.

The Mount Tecumseh Research Transect was also used each summer as part of the Rey Center’s citizen science programming with both adults and children. Phenology research is an ideal means for informing the public about the probable consequences of climate change and for encouraging their support to monitor the outcomes. The Mount Starr King transect was also used as the basis for a phenology and climate curriculum that provides an opportunity for students to participate in data collection and analysis activities enhancing the life science, earth science, and inquiry components in science programming at the school.

Several CFE graduate and undergraduate students, under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Biology Michele Pruyn, were involved with this project. These students conducted intensive data collection field work in the spring and fall hiking 15 to 20 miles per week along the transects.

Contact Us

Contact Us

January 9th, 2013 by Michael

Center for the Environment

Plymouth State University
Samuel Read Hall Building, 2nd Floor
MSC #63, 17 High Street
Plymouth, NH 03264

phone (603) 535-3179
fax (603) 535-3004