Collecting Baseline Data of Plant Communities

Collecting data on Mount Monadnock As diverse as we know Mount Monadnock to be, there is still much to learn about its natural community structure. Since Henry David Thoreau’s botanical explorations in the 1800’s, no systematic scientific study has been established that could be reliably followed into the future. Explorations of Henry Ives Baldwin in the 1970’s, Bill Nichols of the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Program in 2002, and Dianne Eno in 2006 have focused on specific areas of the mountain and provide valuable information, but none of these studies established permanent plots that could be followed over time.

The annual flood of autumn hikers impacts the mountain’s trails and summit. Knowing what plants exist and in what locations will allow managers of Mount Monadnock State Park to protect rare or vulnerable communities. Such information is also valuable in enhancing visitors’ appreciation and respect for the mountain’s ecology.

Baseline data of present-day conditions will allow scientists to measure changes in forest composition and health over time. Student and faculty researchers will compare current and future data with climate trends and other environmental information. Thus, they will see how climate change affects the mountain’s ecology and forests throughout the region.