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Adirondack Long-term Ecological Monitoring Program

Monitoring an ecosystem requires consistent, repeated, high-quality observation. SUNY ESF Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) operates a program at the Huntington Wildlife Forest (HWF) to record physical, chemical, and biological features over time at multiple scales. The Adirondack Long-Term Ecological Monitoring Program (ALTEMP) provides the data necessary to detect changes and identify trends in species abundance and diversity, cycles, structure, composition and function in managed and unmanaged forested watersheds.

The following pages describe each project objectives and methodology. Over eighty-five years of research have been incorporated into over 30 ongoing monitoring efforts. ALTEMP currently monitors over 100 physical, chemical, and biological attributes. Data from hundreds of studies are maintained by the AEC, many dating from the 1930's. Historical data are preserved and accessible. Data and protocols are available online for some projects, and others may be requested from AEC. Scientists and trained staff collect, organize and analyze data year-round.

ALTEMP and the HWF enable a standardized view of the Adirondack ecosystem and support experiments and observational studies even as questions and methods evolve. Intensive biological surveys were begun in the 1930's under the auspices of the Roosevelt Wild Life Research Station at the College of Forestry, what is now SUNY ESF. These surveys were followed in the 1950's by life history studies of most vertebrates. During the 1960's, the emphasis shifted to experimental studies involving large scale (>100 ha) manipulations of vegetation and herbivore populations. By the 1970's, regional pollution and acidification concerns spurred interest in air and water quality and led to emphasis in monitoring lakes, streams and soils. At the end of the 20th Century, biogeochemical cycles and nutrients became a key component of ALTEMP. In the first part of the 21st Century, a focus on climate change impacts has taken center stage along with invasive species, carbon storage, resilience and more.

Investigations relating to local to global forest and water management practices are an integral part of the research program at the AEC and a major component of ALTEMP activities. Managed stands, together with undisturbed sites, are included in most ALTEMP surveys. Regular measurement of a wide range of vegetative parameters collected from over 300 Continuous Forest Inventory (CFI) plots, white-tailed deer exclosure sites, and wildlife habitat survey points periodically document the plant community. The Adirondack landscape on and around HWF has minimal infrastructure or development and allows researchers and decision-makers to better understand the ramifications of natural resource policy and practices.

List of ALTEMP Projects