Trees are the centerpiece of the Great Trinity Forest. This webpage shares forest ecology research focused on tree species identification to characterize the forest surrounding the Trinity River Audubon Center.
Trekking through the Trees: Forest Succession at the Trinity River Audubon Center
The Trinity River Audubon Center opened in 2008, providing a place for people to connect with nature and habitat for birds and wildlife. The tree species on the Audubon property are an important piece of the newly protected habitat. Understanding forest succession, how tree species replace each other over time, gives insight to the forest’s relative age, future needs, and habitat quality. Forest succession is the framework this research used to study the trees of the Great Trinity Forest.
Broad Research Goals of the Forest Succession Study:
1) Provide the Center with data for the conservation strategy.
2) Develop education/outreach materials about trees of the Great Trinity Forest.
The project Trekking through the Trees: Forest Succession at the Trinity River Audubon Center was supported by SMU Earth Sciences, Engaged Learning, and Trinity River Audubon Center.
The forest surrounding the Trinity River Audubon Center was surveyed by randomly selecting plots within the six distinct study areas. Within each plot, every tree was identified and measured for diameter at breast height. This information was used to calculate species importance value.
Sugar hackberry, Green Ash, Pecan, and Elm were the trees with the highest importance values. The forest association is American Elm-Sugarberry-Green Ash. The forest is maturing, and can be said to be in a mid-successional phase.
The mentor for this project was Dr. Bonnie Jacobs in the Earth Sciences Department at Southern Methodist University.