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Research now under way at the Cloquet Forestry Center

Climate Change: University of Minnesota researcher Artur Stefanski is managing the U.S. Depart-ment of Energy-funded project called B4Warmed that has planted 12,000 trees on 96 plots at the center. The goal is to see how increasing temperatures o...

  • Climate Change: University of Minnesota researcher Artur Stefanski is managing the U.S. Depart-ment of Energy-funded project called B4Warmed that has planted 12,000 trees on 96 plots at the center. The goal is to see how increasing temperatures of 2 and 4 degrees Celsius will affect tree growth. Average temperatures are expected to increase that much in northern Minnesota by 2050 and 2100. The study uses hundreds of infrared lamps and underground coils to warm the air and soil around a dozen northern tree species. Computers and censors keep the temperatures at the higher level throughout the growing season.

    "Temperatures are already changing here, and we know the vegetation already is changing, too,'' Stefanski said. "What we don't know is how the forest might react when we have even higher temperatures over a long period.''

  • Tree growth: Pines have been studied at the center since 1912, offering a historic mark to compare growth rates. "We're still measuring some of the very same trees that were being measured in 1912,'' Director Ron Severs said. Other studies are attempting to regenerate red pine faster and better and probing whether genetically selected, fast-rising spruce trees are outgrowing their root systems.

  • Climate: Accurate weather records have been kept at the same site at the center since 1911, among the oldest continual records in the region. (Duluth's official weather station, for example, has moved three times.) That has made the station a magnet for climate-related research where data can be compared with historical records.
  • Ruffed grouse: Perhaps the most locally famous work at the center was performed by University of Minnesota grouse expert Gordon Gullion. Gullion inherited the grouse research from predecessors who started in the 1940s and proceeded to raise the knowledge level of the bird's mysterious eating habits and population cycles. More than 60 years later, wildlife biologists still are trying to figure out this smallish forest bird. Researcher Lorelle Berkeley is using remote video cameras to spy on grouse drumming logs to find out why some male grouse are more likely to attract females and reproduce. Is it the habitat they live in, or are they better lovers?

  • Biomass: The impacts of logging on wildlife and vegetation have been studied for decades. But that logging involved large trees for lumber and paper mills. What happens when a forest is harvested for biomass fuel, either to be burned for electricity or made into ethanol? Much more debris and smaller wood is taken off the land, and researcher Michael Rents is trying to determine the long-term impacts on small mammals and other animals.
  • Related Topics: CLOQUETENVIRONMENT
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