The spice of life

The Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project, known as MOFEP, is a blender of scientific research.

“This is a multidisciplinary experiment,” said Matt Olson, a resource scientist at the Missouri Department of Conservation.

MOFEP is a 24-year-old project focused on studying forest management on nine sprawling research plots located in Shannon, Reynolds and Carter counties.

Olson, a forestry researcher at MOFEP, said the long-term project, which is expected to last more than 100 years, studies the effects of different logging techniques. The project involves the study of biodiversity, forest health, wildlife habitat and natural communities of woodland species.

“If you ask a Department of Conservation forester what their goal is, they will say, ‘A healthy sustainable forest,’” said Rochelle Renken, a wildlife biologist at the Department of Conservation. “That includes plants and animals.”

Olson and a team of university, state and federal scientists have studied various trees, small plants, birds, amphibians and reptiles as part of MOFEP.

“We are working on compiling all this research to look at the project holistically,” said Alex Wolf, an animal scientist for the Department of Conservation.

“Diversity is the spice of life,” Wolf said. “I’m a big believer in that.”

Edited by Bridgit Bowden and Margaux Henquinet

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