Mountain Lake Biological Station is located in the Southern Appalachians of Southwest Virginia. This field site is administered through the University of Virginia. The NEON plots extend from mixed decidious forests to pine plantations.
The MLBS is surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest, on the ridge that divides Atlantic and Mississippi drainages. The field station sits at an elevation of 1250 m.
Plot 1 is located near the top of the ridge, in shallow rocky soils. The canopy supports Quercus rubra, Betula lenta, and Acer pensylvanicum. The mid story is dominated by Hamamelis virginiana and the under story supports an array of herbaceous species. Quercus rubra has been heavily affected by the gypsy moth in this area.
Plot 2 is an open stand on a rocky slope that descends to a stream. This mixed decidious forest includes Quercus spp., Acer spp, and Betula spp. The mid story is dominated by Hamamelis virginiana and Acer pennsylvanicum.
Plot 11 is dominated by short, straggly oaks, includes Q. rubra, Q. alba, and Q. velutina. Most of these oaks show signs of dieback and defoliation due to gypsy moth. This flat rocky stand also supports Acer pensylvanicum and Magnolia accumulata above a dense layer of ferns. NEON’s tree census for this stand will not occur until the winter of 2018.
Plot 9 has a short canopy and is dominated by Quercus spp. and Acer pennslyvanicum. This open stand with shallow, rocky soils has a sparse understory with patches of grass.
Plot 5 is dominated by Quercus rubra and Acer pennsylvanicum. Rocky soils include grassy areas with exposed boulders and dense fern thickets. Medium-size Q. rubra were heavily impacted by gypsy moth.
Plot 3 is located in a bottomland, with deeper soils and a dense fern understory. The canopy is dominated by Quercus rubra, Acer pennsylvanicum and Betula alleghaniensis.
Plot 10 is an open stand of Quercus spp with extensive defoliation by gypsy moth. Between boulders, the understory supports graminoids throughout.
Plot 8 is located on a steep, wet, rocky gradient. This rich, tall stand is dominated by many different deciduous trees, including Liriodendron tulipfera, Quercus spp, Acer spp., Prunus serotina, Carya glabra, and Tilia americana. Throughout the rocky under story, there is a thin mixture of ferns and briers.
Plot 7 was placed in a riparian area next to a planted stand of Pinus, that had recently been harvested. The plot sits close to the stream, where dense patches of rhododendron are supported. The canopy is dominated by Quercus rubra, Oxydendrum arboreum, and Acer rubrum. There are a few escaped Pinus echinata on the outside of the forty meter plot.
Plot 6 is a planted Pinus echinata stand located in a bog like bottom land. The under story is pretty sparse due to a burn in the past five years. There are a couple of hardwood species supported, Quercus alba and Prunus serotina. Cone counts were completed on the censused Pinus trees.