Faculty member Kerry Woods is spending a month in Slovenia as a Fulbright ‘senior specialist,’ where he is collaborating with colleagues at the Forestry School of the University of Ljubljana to build a network of researchers working with long-term permanent plots to understand ecosystem properties of old-growth forests. Such forests are interesting, in part, for their rarity. Europe retains very few old-growth forests, but the small country of Slovenia (one of the most heavily forested countries in Europe) has quite a few tracts, and several host study plots established over 30 years ago.
Such under-used, heritage data-sets can give us insight into the ‘baseline’ properties of forest ecosystems. Does diversity increase or decrease with forest age? Old forests can be very large carbon reservoirs on a per-area basis, but are they acting as carbon sources or sinks? Do such properties and processes converge among old-growth temperate forests in different parts of the world (for example, the old-growth forests Woods studies in Michigan)?
The project will culminate with a workshop attended by researchers from several European countries. The workshop will, we hope, lead to future collaborations undertaking integrative meta-analysis of data-sets from temperate forests around the world
; they can help us understand the processes that maintain diversity,