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UAM Natural Resources Student Wins Regional Poster Competition on Tree Health and Inventory

Photo Credits Ryan Askren- UAM research associate
Askren – editDSC_8875-JPEG-2(1) Cassandra Hug and UAM associate professor Dr. Doug Osborne

Fast facts

• UAM Natural Resources Student Wins Poster Contest

• Tree Inventory plotted at 12 Green Tree Reservoirs

• Overcup oaks spill into the forest canopy

UAM Natural Resources graduate student Cassandra Hug won first place in the 68thAnnual Southern Hardwood Forest Research Group poster contest on March 22nd.  The contest was held this year online via Microsoft Teams. 

“This was the first time attending,” said Hug. The meeting is for people from various state agencies, organizations, and universities to talk about ongoing projects and current research, and management for forests and funding. The 11th Annual Dr. John Adams student poster contest was open to any undergraduate, M.S., or Ph.D. student working on original research that investigates some aspect of southern hardwood forestry.

Hug’s poster focused on tree inventories on one of the Green Tree Reservoirs (GTR), George’s Woods, within the Five Oaks property, near Humphrey, Arkansas. . A Green Tree Reservoir is a forest of hardwood trees that stays shallowly flooded in fall and winter; they are desirable areas for waterfowl.

Five Oaks Agricultural Research and Education Center (FoAgREC) has funded her research project.

This particular Green Tree Resevoir is managed mainly for waterfowl (duck hunting), said Hug.   “What we want to see are a lot of trees that produce smaller acorns, such asNuttall oak or Willow Oak.  This study has shown that there is more Overcup oak in the overstory as opposed to seeing Nuttall or Willow Oaks, which would be desirable for waterfowl.”

Hug’s poster explains most GTR management techniques involve constant flooding throughout the dormant season. Hug’s poster asserts that constant flooding increases stress on GTR trees and alters the forest composition.

The large-scale project includes dividing the 12 GTRs into 750 plots, where she takes detailed vegetation composition and tree health measurements.  Eventually,Hug will include elevation measures to see if differentelevations affect the tree’s health.  Hug evaluated 70 plots in George’s Woods to begin her project. Hug has spent the last few months collecting data on the overstory canopy structure, diameter at breast height distribution, and Importance Value (IMP) of each tree species.

Hug’s research revealed the Overcup oak had an Importance Value of 65%. Overcup dominated the forest canopy in their forest area, followed by species such as Nutall oak Cedar Elm, and Willow oak. The Nutall and Willow are of particular value to waterfowl due to the smaller acorns they produce. Their acorns are small enough for the ducks to swallow.

“I only evaluated one Green Tree Resevoir because it’s what we had accomplished before the poster competition, ” said Hug.  “We hope to have all 12 Green Tree Resevoirs done by this summer, 2022.  We are hiring two different field research teams to measure the 750 temporary and permanent plots. It is all part of my Master Project Thesis, so it’s crucial to get measurement completed this summer,” said Hug. 

Hug is originally from the front range of the Rockies near Denver, CO.  She did her undergraduate work at Regis University.  She said she has never been duck hunting or any kind of hunting.  While looking for a master’s degreeassistantship, she didn’t intentionally go for forestry overwildlife but was offered two opportunities.  She turned down an assistantship in Indiana for aquaculture studies.  Hug said she doesn’t really care for fishing and certainly not for a career. She added,” I grew up around the outdoors and trees, so the Natural Resources route seemed like a good fit.”

Hug says the poster contest was a byproduct of her research and larger thesis project.  She said the posterpresentation was not required as part of her schoolwork. Hug was told about the poster contest by her faculty adviser and UAM assistant professor of biometrics, Dr. Pradip Saud.

“By presenting posters, the student can interact with the camera in place of a person.  They have an audience. It’s another kind of experience, rather than the traditional inperson experience,”said Dr. Saud. 

“I believe that the poster presentations help build confidence and motivate students to become more involved with their research,” said Dr. Saud.

Saud says he walked Hug through the process step-by-step.  Saud himself has presented a half dozen posters and shared his experiences.

Hug collected $250 for the first-place award and she will receive a certificate. Hug said the money would go toward her ongoing educational expenses.

About the College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center

The College of Forestry, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Arkansas Forest Resources Center, a University of Arkansas System Center of Excellence, brings together interdisciplinary expertise through a partnership between the University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. The College and Center are headquartered at the University of Arkansas at Monticello campus, but their programs range statewide with the mission of developing and delivering teaching, research, and extension programs that enhance and ensure the sustainability and productivity of forest-based natural resources and agricultural systems. Academic programs are delivered by the College of Forestry, Agriculture, and Natural Resources through the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Through the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, research is administered by the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, and extension and outreach activities are coordinated by the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

The University of Arkansas at Monticello and the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offer all of their programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and are Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employers.

About the Division of Agriculture

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.

The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

UAM News is everything from the University of Arkansas At Monticello.

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