NEON's Domain 5 core site is located at the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC) East. Straddling the border between Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the UNDERC property comprises approximately 7500 acres and is maintained as an environmental education and research facility. UNDERC also has 30 lakes comprising 1350 acres, including Crampton Lake, a NEON aquatics site.
Region-wide logging for pine in the late 1800s and early to mid-1900's led to clear cutting of most forested areas on the property. The main parcel was donated to the University in the 1930s. Timber harvest continued into the 1950s and later, leaving a mixture of successional forest regrowth. Since the 1970s, the site has been minimally managed to maintain access for recreational, educational and research goals.
The UNDERC property primarily includes second-growth Northern mesic forest with dominant species including, red and sugar maple (Acer rubrum and A. saccharum), aspen (Populus tremuloides and P. grandidentata) ) and paper birch (Betula papyrifera.). Evergreen forests are dominated by balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and may also include hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and in the numerous wet areas, cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and black spruce (Picea mariana).
Poorly drained soils on the site can give rise to open, acidic sphagnum bogs dotted with tamarack (Larix laricina), black spruce and Ericaceous shrubs. Marshes surround numerous lakes including Crampton Lake, a co-located NEON aquatics site. Some wetlands are dominated by thickets of alder (Alnus incana subsp. rugosa).
Climate is generally humid, cool and wet with an annual average of 37.6º F at nearby Land O’ Lakes, WI with no true dry season. Temperature averages range from a low of -3.8º F and high of 49.7º F Annual precipitation is approximately 33 inches with 114 inches of snow.
Site Specific Topics
Land use and specifically forest management, is one of the major science themes the Great Lakes Domain will study. The UNDERC property represents a regenerating, minimally managed forest that is characteristic of the region. This site was selected in contrast with other Great Lakes sites, Treehaven and Steigerwaldt which have varying forestry management history/management and planned future use.