Brianna Smith - Forest Canopy Lab

University of Maryland, College Park, MD

After graduating from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a degree in Landscape Ecology, I decided to explore the research possibilities of my field at SERC.  My internship with the Forest Canopy Lab has been very exciting, eventful and educational.  My project involves several key additions to the existing GIS dataset for the “Big Tree Plot” (approximately 47 hectares of marsh, floodplain and upland forest in the Rhode River Watershed) here at SERC:

(1)   Identify the temporal and spatial stages of the mapping process (it took almost 10 years to map all the trees in this plot!)

(2)   Identify and map the historical attributes of the plot (i.e. pasture and cropland areas, property boundaries, roads and fences)

(3)   Identify the ages of the different tree stands present (how many years have passed since abandoning to regenerate into forest)

(4)   Determine the extent and magnitude of storm damage resulting from a high-wind storm event that occurred June 5, 2002.

(5)   Determine the elevation of each tree using recently available “small footprint” LIDAR, high-resolution ground DEM

  Finally, I will calculate species growth rates, biomass accumulation, and carbon budget, as well as explore the species relationships to elevation and land use history.  The results of these tasks will be organized into a GIS database and several maps.  After finishing this internship I plan to attend grad school to earn a M.S. in Forest Ecology.

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