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Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park

Research Park Notes
Issue 17, July 24, 2001

Welcome to Research Park Notes! Look for tidbits of information on National Environmental Research Park activities, observations, and users every couple of weeks. To provide newsletter input, request additional information, make comments, or add/delete mailing list names, contact the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Area Manager, Pat Parr.


Undergraduate students Rebekah Hutton [Department of Energy, Energy Research Undergraduate Laboratory Fellowships (ERULF) intern] and Keiran O'Hara and Carrie Pendley [Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) at ORNL interns] are working with Carla Gunderson and Timothy Tschaplinski (Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory) to characterize responses to elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in the forest understory. The Oak Ridge Free-Air CO2 Enrichment (FACE) facility, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, provides atmospheric CO2 concentrations of future decades to an intact forest ecosystem. Rebekah, Keiran, and Carrie are comparing the relative impacts of elevated CO2 on growth, leaf biochemistry, and photosynthetic physiology of seedling species developing in the low-light environment of the forest understory and comparing them with responses in the sweet gum canopy.

Jake Beaulieu [Higher Education Research Experiences (HERE) at ORNL intern] is involved in a study of nitrogen cycling in Walker Branch using whole-ecosystem nitrogen-15 (N-15) additions. The study is focusing on the rates and mechanisms of nitrate uptake in the stream and the effects of light availability and diurnal variation in light.


Wes James (TVA) took Warren Webb, Kari Cohen, and Pat Parr to see TVA partnership native grass restoration sites at their Carson Island area. Sites had been planted one, two, and three years ago and were impressive with the overall success of native grass establishment.

Eight high school teachers participating in the Appalachian Resource Commission (ARC) program worked as part of an invasive plant team for two weeks (July 9-20) on the Research Park. Chris Ball (New York), Dan Fiedorczyk (West Virginia), Lana Horton (Alabama), Jim Lang (Pennsylvania), Sharon Lantz (Ohio), Jim Luke (Mississippi), Beth Miller (Ohio), and Jan Miller (Alabama) worked under the leadership of Larry Pounds (ORNL plant ecology consultant), Kari Cohen (Park intern), and Pat Parr (ORNL). Patrice Cole shared information from her research on Nepal grass and showed the group her study sites set up to evaluate impacts of light and moisture on growth. The team did a follow-up survey of the success of the oriental bittersweet eradication initiated at a site last year. Last year, a different ARC team identified and removed 469 bittersweet plants. This year, 136 plants were found at the same site. The group also initiated a study to determine the impacts of Nepal grass (Microstegium vimineum) on the state-listed rein-orchid (Platanthera flava). Over 100 orchids were found in the site (more than expected). Microstegium was removed in certain plots containing the orchid by pulling or cutting. Future ARC teams will evaluate the effectiveness of the Nepal grass removal in the orchid site.


Dave Reichle (former Associate Director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and Pat Parr (ORNL) are co-leading a class at Roane State ORICL (Oak Ridge Institute for Continued Learning) on Nature’s Treasures. Lectures on various ecological topics followed with field trips to the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park offer the opportunity to build on information learned in the classroom lectures. Last week the class heard lectures from Frank Harris (ORNL) on “The Eastern Deciduous Forest,” Pat Parr (ORNL) “Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park Biodiversity,” Tom Thomas (ORAU) “The Forests and Trees,” Pat Mulholland (ORNL) “Stream Ecology,” and John Smith (ORNL) “Aquatic Life.” The field trip included stops at Walker Branch Watershed weirs (Pat Mulholland and John Smith), NOAA tower (Tilden Meyers, NOAA), NOAA sodar site (Will Pendergrass), and Spallation Neutron Source site (Frank Kornegay, SNS/ORNL). The registration of 59 individuals for this class indicates a continuing community interest in learning more about activities on the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park.


August 5-8, 2001 – "Globalization and Water Management--The Changing Value of Water," AWRA/University of Dundee International Specialty Conference, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland. More info: Contact AWRA Headquarters [(540) 687-8390] or

August 5-10, 2001 – The 86th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, Madison, Wisconsin. More info:

October 3-6, 2001 – Natural Areas Association Annual Conference at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on “Searching for a Natural Balance.” More info:

November 6-8, 2001 - SAMAB Annual Fall Conference, Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

November 12-15, 2001 – Annual Water Resources Conference, Hyatt Regency Albuquerque, Albuquerque, New Mexico. More info: Contact AWRA Headquarters [(540) 687-8390] or

November 26-28, 2001 – Southern Forest Science Conference, Contributions of Forest Research to Sustainable Forestry, Atlanta, Georgia. More info: or call (828) 257-4302.

The Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park was designated by the Department of Energy in 1980 and is one of a network of seven National Environmental Research Parks. It is an Oak Ridge National Laboratory User Facility. The Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park was designated an international biosphere reserve in 1989. It is also a unit member of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve and part of the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere (SAMAB) Cooperative. More information on the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park can be found on the website at:

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Last Modified: August 13, 2001
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