Smithsonian Environmental Research Center
The SERC Forest Dynamics Plot is located at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, adjacent to a sub-estuary of the Chesapeake Bay on the US coastal plain. The square 16.0 ha plot is dominated by mature secondary upland forest but is bisected with a section of floodplain forests, both around 120 years since initiation. The upland forest is an example of the “tulip poplar” association with an overstory dominated by tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), several oaks (Quercus spp.), beech (Fagus grandifolia), several hickories (Carya spp.) and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua); a mid-canopy of red maple (Acer rubrum) and sour gum (Nyssa sylvatica); and an understory composed of American hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana), spicebush (Lindera benzoin), and paw-paw (Asimina triloba). The flood plain forest is dominated by ashes (Fraxinus spp.), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), and American elm (Ulmus americana). The forest is rather tall (to as high as 40 m) and has a high richness for this part of the temperate zone, with more than 71 species. Installation of the plot began in September 2007 and the first census was completed in 2011. The second census began and was completed in 2014, and the third is currently underway.
SERC is also one of 81 NEON field sites. The National Science Foundation's National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental-scale ecological observation facility. NEON collects and provides open data from sites across the United States that characterize and quantify how our nation's ecosystems are changing. The comprehensive data, spatial extent and remote sensing technology provided by the NEON project will contribute to a better understanding and more accurate forecasting of how human activities impact ecology and how our society can more effectively address critical ecological questions and issues. NEON data and resources are freely available to enable users to tackle scientific questions at scales not accessible to previous generations of ecologists.