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Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park

Research Park Notes
Issue 4, January 9, 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.


Global Change Research Using Precipitation Manipulation - Paul Hanson, Environmental Sciences Division, ORNL

Regional climate models simulate that rainfall may be reduced in the southeastern United States due to regional climatic change. A large-scale field manipulation experiment (Throughfall Displacement Experiment or TDE) was initiated on the Walker Branch Watershed (in the National Environmental Research Park) in 1993 to study how changes in rainfall would impact the productivity and species composition of a temperate deciduous forest in East Tennessee. This large-scale study enables scientists to address the role of biological and ecological processes in controlling the response of forest ecosystems to climatic change. Experimental manipulation of hydrologic inputs at the TDE is accomplished by intercepting throughfall in approximately 2000 subcanopy troughs (0.3 x 5 m) suspended above the forest floor on a "dry" treatment plot and transferring the throughfall across a control plot for distribution onto a "wet" treatment plot. Each plot is 80 x 80 m in size. The treatments result in a 33% decrease in precipitation, reaching the forest floor on the dry plot and a corresponding increase in precipitation on the wet plot. Reductions in soil moisture on the dry plot are expected to be equivalent to the driest growing seasons of the 1980s drought which resulted in reduced tree growth of some species. The site was chosen because of its uniform slope, consistent soils, and a reasonably uniform distribution of vegetation. The forest community is dominated by white oak, chestnut oak and red maple, but it contains just under 20 tree species. The past 25 years of research on the Walker Branch Watershed provide an important reference data base against which to judge the outcomes of this large-scale field experiment. Types of studies that have been done on this site include: Foliar Photosynthesis and Biochemistry, Foliar Photosynthesis and Biochemistry, Sapling Water Use, Below Ground Responses, Plant Growth and Survival, Stand Net Ecosystem Production, Spatial Patterns of Armillaria Fungi Populations, and Plant-Herbivore Processes. General information on the site and information on these studies and their investigators is found at the Throughfall Displacement web site. The research is funded through the Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research, Program for Ecosystem Research.

Note: A complicated URL was provided in Issue 3 for the Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Facility. Rich Norby says this one may be simpler to use:


Invasive Plants – Patrice Cole, University of Tennessee

Patrice has been studying one of our worst invasive plants on the Oak Ridge Reservation, Microstegium or Japanese grass, also known as Nepal grass--those are the nice names it’s been called. She recently mentioned an observation she made in October while doing field work in the Research Park. Several wild turkey (now pretty common on the reservation) were making their way through an open area and selectively eating the seed off the Microstegium. Dispersal through water and by vehicles had been assumed, but now we have another mechanism to add to the list. She says that this may account for small, scattered patches of the unwelcome grass throughout forest areas otherwise fairly unaffected. Patrice Cole is working on her Ph.D. in Ecology under Michael Huston, Environmental Sciences Division, ORNL.


Stan Wullschleger, researcher in the Environmental Sciences Division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was recently invited to participate in a Tansley Conference entitled "Stomata 2001." The conference, sponsored by the journal New Phytologist, will take place May 25-28, 2001, in Birmingham, England. Stan's talk will focus on whole-plant water use and the response of stomatal and canopy conductance to environmental stimuli. His presentation and subsequent paper for New Phytologist will draw heavily upon his whole-tree research from the Throughfall Displacement Experiment at Walker Branch Watershed and the Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment Facility, both on the National Environmental Research Park. More on Stan and his research can be found on his personal home page.


Oak Ridge Reservation Land Use Planning Meeting

The Department of Energy has scheduled a public meeting addressing land use planning on the Oak Ridge Reservation for 6 p.m., Tuesday, January 30, at the YWCA, 1660 Oak Ridge Turnpike. In the event of inclement weather, DOE will decide by 3 p.m. the day of the meeting whether the meeting will be held. For the latest on these meetings, call the Oak Ridge DOE Public Affairs Office at 865-576-0885. Good background on the use of the reservation is found in the following planning documents on the ORNL web: ORNL Land and Facilities Plan and the Reservation Comprehensive Integrated Plan.


Research Park Web Site NEW LOOK!

The Research Park web site has been updated and improved. It now includes a link to the current and past “Research Park Notes,” the Park brief on “Biodiversity,” available data (such as plant lists, rare species, etc.), and soon will also link to Research Park publications.

Annual Site Environmental Report for the Oak Ridge Reservation, 1999

The report is available on the ORNL web ( and can also be found in the DOE Public Reading Room, 230 Warehouse Road, Oak Ridge. The report provides environmental monitoring data from air, soil, water, and animal life on and around the reservation, along with information on DOE's compliance with federal and state environmental laws.


January 30, 2001, DOE Public Meeting on Oak Ridge Reservation Land Use (see information above).

February 12-16, 2001, First Karst Interest Group Workshop, St. Petersburg, Florida. Contact Zelda Chapman Bailey ( for more information.

March 21-23, 2001, Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council annual meeting with theme “2001 A Weed Odyssey” in Athens, Georgia. More info:

March 21-23, 2001, The North American Lake Management Society's 10th Annual Southeastern Lakes Management Conference will be held in Knoxville, Tennessee. The theme of this year's Conference is "Sustainable Watersheds--Balancing Multiple Needs." More info:

April 4-7, 2001, Association of Southeastern Biologists annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. More info:

November 26-28, 2001, Southern Forest Science Conference Contributions of Forest Research to Sustainable Forestry, Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, see or call 828/257-4302.

The Oak Ridge Institute of Science and Education is now administering the DOE funded programs for Oak Ridge National Laboratory. There are many student and faculty educational opportunities. More info:

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 Updated: May 4, 2001
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