Clark University Research
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Active Learning and Research
Active Learning and Research
Husband and wife team Dianne Rocheleau and Luis Malaret bring students into the field to study how people living in or near a forest use forest products, and how that use affects forest animals and plants.

Social constituencies of Adirondack ecologies

Principal Investigators: Dianne Rocheleau (Marsh Institute at Clark University), Luis Malaret (Marsh Institute at Clark University), Marla Emery (USDA Forest Service), Gary Wade (USDA Forest Service)


Enhance understanding of the relationship between forest uses, forest users, and forest composition. Specifically, we will examine:
  1. Direct and indirect forest uses by a variety of social constituents, defined in terms of their association with 5 categories of Adirondack Park Agency land-use categories (e.g., 3 private land classifications: hamlet, moderate intensity use, and low intensity use; and 2 state land classifications: wild forest, and intensive use) in the Tupper Lake, NY area;
  2. Vegetative species composition and diversity within these land-use categories;
  3. Species composition and diversity of herpetile (amphibians and reptiles) and ant populations within these land-uses; and
  4. Local uses of local woods.


Biological data
Biological data will be collected on 48 plots chosen via a stratified random sampling procedure. Vegetative sampling will be conducted according to a protocol developed by Dr. Gary Wade for use in a Northeastern Research Station (NE-4454) silviculture study. Within plots, all trees over 2.5 cm dbh will be measured and recorded. Shrubs and herbaceous species will be identified and quantified in subplots. Specimens will be collected for an herbarium reference collection. Data will be evaluated using standard statistical procedures including factor analysis of species abundance and richness to identify plant communities based on patterns of co-occurrence. We will use discriminant analysis to relate species abundance and size to land use/cover and management. A suite of standard diversity indices (the University of Edinburgh/ Natural History Museum of London's PD Pro biodiversity package) will be used to compare biodiversity between sites and land use/cover and management classes. Herpetile and ant surveys will be conducted through intensive searches (approximately 12 person-hours/plot) of leaf litter and dead and down wood, undersides of rocks, and open areas in plots. Herpetiles will be identified on location to species level, photographed and released. Ant samples will be collected and preserved for later identification. Herpetile data will be analyzed using multi-variate statistical tests as well as the Biodiversity Pro program. Correspondence of taxa abundance and compositional similarity will be examined by treatment and landuse/cover type in a manner compatible with data analysis for the vegetative component of the silviculture study. Floral and faunal species richness, abundance, and composition within and between land-use categories will be compared to determine whether there is any discernible relationship between land use/cover and management.

Herpetile and ant data will also be collected on 24 plots in an adjacent resource management area where Forest Service (NE-4454) colleagues are conducting vegetative inventories using the same sampling techniques. These additional plots represent a subset of a controlled experiment to evaluate impacts of silvicultural treatments on biodiversity. Our own herpetile and ant survey at this site adds a layer of information to that study's evaluation of silvicultural treatment impact on biodiversity. For our own purposes it extends our total sites for floral and faunal analysis both in number and in character, adding three distinct silvicultural practices to our suite of land use categories.

To complement and expand upon the plant abundance and tree size/volume information from the 48 plots, we will also identify and list the species of all trees and woody plants over 1 m tall and greater than or equal to 2.5 cm dbh (trees) on each of the properties surrounding the plots. We will map the overall landscape and the placement of trees, built structures and land cover types. We will identify all of the trees on 100% of the properties of two hectares or less, and will identify and list the trees in sample transects within the private, common and public properties on parcels over 2 ha. in area. This will link the plot data to a data set from a larger area on tree species richness, with maps of tree occurrence/ placement within landholdings of different types, sizes and management. The properties will necessarily be of unequal size, yet will provide a representative sample of the matrix of management units in the landscape in which the plots are located.

This nested sampling frame expands the total sampling area for tree species richness, increases the chances of a more complete characterization of the flora in each site, and allows us to better characterize the logic of placement and management of trees and other woody species. The property units will most often consist of private landholdings with residential housing, except in the case of common areas in suburban developments and state campgrounds. In the silvicultural treatments at Paul Smiths, the vegetation analysis conducted by NE-4454 and Paul Smiths College will include analogous species richness data from the treatment blocks in which the plots are located. The scale is roughly equivalent to the private residential properties in our sample. We will compare the species richness results from sample plots and surrounding properties and will discuss the implications for research methods in future surveys.

Social Data
Social, cultural and economic data (primarily qualitative in nature) will be collected in four nested and overlapping surveys to link the biodiversity data to land use and management and to distinct groups of users and managers at the scale of plots (immediate vicinity of biodiversity sampling points), property (landholdings), and larger administrative units (villages, towns, counties, state parks, and statewide agencies). The first stage of research will focus on archival research. Sources will include the Paul Smiths College Adirondack collection, Tupper Lake Public Library, Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Information Center, Adirondack Museum, maps, aerial photographs, remotely sensed imagery, and web-based information.

Field interviews will begin with key informants including forestry, land management, and planning professionals, local government officials and civic leaders, environmentalists, developers, business people, representatives and clients of service and advocacy organizations, and as well as scientists and naturalists active in the Tupper Lake area and in the larger Adirondacks Park. Seasonal and year round residents from distinct social and economic groups, and with different histories and places of origin will complement the officials, experts and "leaders" in the pool of key informants. The sample of key informant interviews (20 - 40) will follow a chain of referrals and evaluation of expert, "connected" or representative contacts (the network sampling or "snowball" method). This approach allows the team to derive the maximum useful information in the early stages of field research , in order to guide the further design of social survey activities and the interpretation of results from archival research and stratified and random sample surveys linked to the biological survey sampling points. Key informant interviews will provide technical, historical, and cultural background, local vocabulary, and will identify other key people, places and events/activities that warrant detailed attention during the course of the study. This part of the survey process should also help to locate the most appropriate study sites for the stratified random sampling of selected floral and faunal biodiversity and land users/managers/owners. It should also lay the foundation of an interpretive framework linking social groups, land use/management practices and the composition of terrestrial plant and animal communities in the Tupper Lake area.

Participant observation in relevant local activities and events at Tupper Lake and nearby campgrounds will help to introduce the research team members to the community, will familiarize them with local organizations and individuals and will provide opportunities to experience, observe and document specific types of land use and management activities by particular groups. Some examples of activities include scheduled hiking and canoeing group trips, the statewide herpetological survey, civic organization meetings and events, local festivals and arts and crafts fairs. The latter often showcase local woods, other forest products and the role of flora and fauna in local arts, and may provide some insight into the selective incorporation of particular species, ecosystems and landscapes into arts, crafts, the broader local culture and environmental tourism. Some activities will simply provide the context for interviews on topics of interest, others will serve to familiarize the research team with the community. Other events/venues will provide both content and context, such as the annual Woodsmen's Days Festival at Tupper Lake, various arts and craft fairs, the herpetological survey, and organized hikes and interpreted walks.

Structured interviews with residents and owners of 48 stratified random sample plots (same as those for biodiversity survey) will form the base for quantitative analysis to characterize the land users and managers at specific sites. The interview results will allow us to relate their characteristics and stated values and attitudes to the condition and composition of plant and animal communities on the sample plots and surrounding properties, including private, state and common property within each study area. The 48 land user/owner surveys will include questions about the plot, the property, the plant and animal species present, and those not present but desired or excluded. The questions will also identify the current residential status (seasonal, year round, holiday) the tenure status (owner, family member, renter), the history of residence/involvement at the site, and the age, occupation, recreational interests, and other relevant life experience of the respondents. The survey questions and process, which will occur in tandem with the biological survey at these sites, will help to determine how respondents or others in their family (or property owners) actively manage the site to promote some species and exclude others and and/to combine them in specific ways, at these sites and others, and within the larger context of the Adirondack Park. The survey will seek to illuminate their actual ecological management activities as well as the motives and values that guide them, across scales.

Structured and open-ended interviews on terrestrial resource management conflicts related to species composition and management will be conducted with local residents, members of lake associations, members of property owners/residential development associations, state agencies personnel, consulting land management experts and employees/officials of local government agencies.

Structured interviews on local uses of local woods will be conducted at arts and craft fairs, at production sites and at retail and wholesale establishments with artisans, craft show exhibitors, retailers and wholesalers in Tupper Lake and surrounding Adirondacks and New York State communities. Questions will focus on the products made and sold and the characteristics, availability, and quality of the raw materials (wood) used and/or sought from local and regional forests.

Data analysis for the social survey data and the relation between social and ecological survey data will include linear and multivariate statistical analyses such as simple and stepwise multiple regressions, principal components/factor analysis, discriminant analyses, and multiple analysis of variance. Spatial statistics packages within the IDRISI GIS program will be used to analyze spatially registered data.

Mapping and photographic data
Multi-scale mapping of sampling points and surrounding units will include plot sketches of the actual sample plots, to document the position and pattern of distribution of the plant species identified and measured within each circle (400 m 2). Property sketches will document the placement, grouping and relative abundance of tree species (and large woody plants) as well as hydrologic features, topography, built structures and other relevant landscape features. Final maps will relate the plot and property sampling results to the land use and cover units on the APA map of Tupper Lake and the adjacent state campgrounds.

Photographic evidence will include systematic documentation of the experimental silvicultural plots and the 48 sample plots at residential and camp sites, as well as contextual and illustrative photos of property/landscape to illustrate, interpret and extrapolate data from the biological and social surveys. Intended uses beyond the scope of the current project include: the preparation of exhibits for focus group discussion on species, ecosystem and landscape values and evaluation; illustration of public and academic presentations; illustrations for museum exhibits of project results at locations such as the Visitor Information Center and Adirondacks Museum; and as data sets for future theses and dissertations at Clark Univeristy as well as colleges and universities in Vermont and New York State and the Northeast more generally.

Maps and photographs will be available for subsequent focus group interviews, public presentation and scenario development for public negotation, consultation and planning processes, as well as policy formulation. Photos and maps from this project, in combination with quantitative results (both descriptive and analytical) will provide a rich source of multi-media information, analysis and synthesis for use in complex processes of planning.

Local social and economic networks will also be "mapped" using results from the structured and key informant interviews. Examination of their articulation with ecological and landscape units will help to provide an overview of the socio-ecological interactions that shape plant and animal communities as well as human ecologies, and the patterns of biodiversity in the Tupper Lake area and the larger Adirondacks Park.

Quality Control and Assurance

Ant identification and taxonomy will be conducted in consultation with taxonomic experts on ants at university research laboratories. Zoological field identification will be personally supervised by one of the PI's, Luis Malaret, a specialist in herpetology, who will also consult with New York State Museum biologists. Statistical analyses will be reviewed by statisticians and quantitative analysis consultants at USDAFS and/or Clark University. The qualitative research methods and results will be reviewed by academic peers in geography, sociology and anthropology for publication in academic journals. The authors have previously published work using these and related methods. One of the PI's (Dianne Rocheleau) teaches graduate courses and has frequently served as a resource person at national and international workshops on integration of social and ecological research methods in complex systems, and on the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods nested at multiple scales of analysis. Marla Emery has adapted social science techniques for use in NTFP research in the Eastern United States and has served as a resource person for Forest Service personnel on the further application and expansion of these methods in forest management research. Collection, processing and application of photographic evidence will be conducted in consultation with Dr. James Palmer at SUNY/CESF. Development, testing and refinement of integrative socio-ecological research methods is a major objective of this project and, as such, some of the methods are somewhat experimental. Each new method is of course supported by triangulation with complementary and more traditional methods.


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