During the spring of 2015, one of the resident plants in the forest of Turkey Run Park had an exceptional season. The red oak, a forest giant, experienced what is known as a mast year, or a year in which these trees produced massive amounts of acorns (mast) compared to other years. Some of this mast went to the squirrels and other small mammals as food, while the great majority of these acorns settled into the soil and soft mulch along the Louisville Loop to germinate and produce thousands of seedlings.
While walking, jogging or riding along the Louisville Loop, you may notice several exclosures made of seven foot tall black fence. These exclosures were built in the spirit of conservation and experimentation with the goal of saving hundreds of seedlings from deer browse and other natural competitors.
These exclosures present a great opportunity to observe competition in a forest setting. As a park visitor and visitor in Turkey Run Forest, take a few moments to see the difference between what is happening to the seedlings inside the exclosure, as well as outside of it. Take note of the plants growing alongside the oaks and how they affect the small seedlings; as the seasons progress, notice which seedlings grow larger and which ones are shaded out. Take this opportunity to connect with the forest in Turkey Run Park.
About the Author
Evan began his career with the Parklands in 2013 as a park attendant and part-time helper on Natural Areas projects. In 2014 he joined the Natural Areas team as a technician and in the spring of 2015 was promoted to Natural Areas Team Leader. While working he spends his time promoting healthy habitats for the plants and animals that live in the park. Patrick was born in Morehead, Kentucky near the Daniel Boone National Forest, where his appreciation for nature, conservation and stewardship was cultivated. Patrick is a graduate of the University of Louisville, where he earned a degree in anthropology. His interests include cooking, mushroom foraging, craft beer and the outdoors.