University of California, Santa Cruz
The University of California Santa Cruz Forest Ecology Research Site (UCSC-FERS), located in the UCSC Campus Natural Reserve, will expand from its original size of 6 ha to 16 ha as it joins the ForestGEO network. The original 6 ha of this Mediterranean climate, mixed evergreen coastal forest site contains 8,180 tagged stems from 31 species and 18 families. The four dominant species are Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia), Shreve's Oak (Quercus parvula var. shrevei) and Tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus); Fagaceae and Pinanceae together comprise three-fourths of all stems. Additional studies at the site investigate soil nutrients, texture, and moisture, as well as understory light conditions. There is also ongoing monitoring of phenology, micrometeorology, small terrestrial mammals, bats, fungi, and arthropods.
Site expansion will bring several new aspects to the site, such as the ability to follow population dynamics, an expansion into difference soil types, and the inclusion of an area that has undergone significant canopy mortality in the last two decades for unknown reasons. The expanded site will also include a significant area of redwood-dominated forest. Over 100 students have already been involved in site studies through undergraduate courses, senior theses, and internships, and this plot expansion promises expanded research and educational opportunities.