The Michigan Big Woods Research Plot at the Edwin S. George Reserve, Pinckney, MI, USA
The Michigan Big Woods research plot is a 23-ha forest dynamics research area at the Edwin S. George Reserve in Pinckney, MI, USA and is part of the Smithsonian Institution’s ForestGEO network of research stations. The plot’s freestanding woody vegetation (trees and shrubs) were censused three times, in 2003, 2008–2010, and 2014; lianas were censused on 20 ha from 2017 to 2018. Stems equal to or larger than 1 cm DBH are included for both trees and lianas. During the most recent tree census the plot included 33,690 tree and shrub individuals, comprising 45,564 stems representing 42 woody species and 22 families. The 20 ha liana census included 679 individuals comprising seven species, six genera, and four families. Compared to other ForestGEO plots in temperate broadleaf forests the plot has comparable levels of diversity and stem density, but a lower free-standing basal area, 30.6 m2 ha-1. It is likely that the plot area has a history of managed burning by Native Americans, and after European colonization, fire suppression, use as a pastured woodlot, and finally agricultural abandonment in the early 1900s. The forest is undergoing rapid succession as the oak-hickory canopy is being replaced by individuals of more mesic species (e.g., black cherry and red maple). The data from this plot offer an excellent resource to study the process of forest mesophication in the absence of a regular burning regime.