About Field Sites
Mayfield Creek (MAYF) is an aquatic NEON field site in the coastal plain of west-central Alabama. The site has a watershed size of 14.3 km2 (3534 acres) and is encompassed within the Mobile River Basin. This site is also located in the Talladega National Forest and is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The forest consists of mixed mature coniferous and hardwood trees, and wetlands comprise a significant portion of the watershed. MAYF is part of NEON's Ozarks Complex Domain (D08). D08 includes two other aquatic field sites and three terrestrial sites. MAYF is colocated with the terrestrial site TALL.  
Alabama has a subtropical climate with hot summers, mild winters, and year-round precipitation. Summers are hot and humid, dominated by maritime tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. This warm, moist air contributes to the formation of convection storms and thunderstorms in the region, causing major precipitation pulses and flooding. The area is subject to tornadoes and hurricanes. The mean average annual temperature 17.2°C (63°F) and the average annual precipitation is about 1378 mm (54.3 in.).  
The parent materials at MAYF consist of undifferentiated marine sediments of the Cretaceous age Tuscaloosa Group. In particular they are characterized by the Gordo and Coker Formations containing sand, clay, and mudstone.  
Talladega National Forest soils are primarily sand, clay, and mudstone from the Typic Hapludults soil subgroup. Parent materials are undifferentiated marine segments from the Tuscaloosa Group, dating to the Cretaceous age. These marine sediments include Boswell, Boykin, Coldwell, Conecuh, Luverne, Maubila, Smithdale, Wadley, and Wilcox. Soils, as a result of this composition, are dominantly varicolored and sandy, loamy, and clayey. Some soils within the Talladega Forest also have a hardened bedrock of ironstone.  
Mayfield Creek's stream channel is highly sinuous with many sharp, meandering bands and few straight reaches. The flow regime is typical of forested streams in the southeast. Base flows are highest in the winter and spring (February through May) and lowest in the late summer and fall (July through November). Precipitation-driven high flow events may occur at any point during the year, though wetlands likely attenuate the intensity of floods. Although the banks and channel of Mayfield Creek are comprised of sand, the vegetation appears to provide significant stability and resistance to bank failure. Mayfield is a small stream, 4.5-6 m (15-20 ft.) across and just a few feet deep. It runs into a larger stream that eventually enters into the Black Warrior River, part of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee watershed that ultimately flows into the Gulf of Mexico. 
Vegetation in the Mayfield Creek watershed consists of mature growth hardwood and conifer trees. Dominant species include various pines: longleaf (Pinus palustris), shortleaf (P. echinata), and loblobby (P. taeda). Other dominant species include oak (Quercus spp.), hickory (Carya spp.), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and dogwood (Cornus spp.). Ground cover vegetation is well-developed but not particularly obstructive. Understory vegetation includes ferns, shrubs, immature trees, and vines. Poison ivy is very common throughout the understory.   
The Talladega National Forest and associated wetlands support a wide variety of insect, bird, reptile, amphibian, and mammal species. In 2004, the forest was deemed essential habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis) and associated species Bachman's sparrow (Peucaea aestivalis), bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus), and prairie warbler (Setophaga discolor).The stream is important habitat for many amphibian and reptile species, including the threatened flattened musk turtle (Sternotherus depressus). Within the Cahaba watershed, there are 20 endangered species of fishes, mussels, and crayfish; 15 more species are threatened; and 17 more species are vulnerable. Endangered and threatened mussel species at Mayfield Creek include the orangenacre mucket (Hamiota perovalis), Alabama moccasinshell (Medionidus acutissimus), and the inflated heelsplitter (Potamilus inflatus).   
Past Land Management and Use
Native American presence in the area dates back at least 12,000 years ago. When European explorers and settlers arrived in the 1600s, four major native nations were living in Alabama: Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. Following the 1830 Indian Removal Act, the U.S. used forced treaties to relocate these indigenous peoples. During the 1800s, the forests throughout Alabama were extensively logged, destroying most of the old growth forests in the state, and was heavily impacted by agriculture. By the early 1900s, most of central Alabama was deforested and intensive farming had resulted in heavy erosion and nutrient depletion. In 1935, the National Forest Commission purchased around 1135 km2 (280,400 acres) of cut-over land as part of the Oakmulgee Purchase Unit, with the intention of reseeding the forests for managed logging, wildlife protection, and recreation. In 1936, President Roosevelt created the Talladega National Forest by proclamation, combining the Oakmulgee Purchase Unit and the Talladega Purchase Unit into protected forestland. By the time the Oakmulgee District was incorporated into the Talladega National Forest, it had already been cut over twice, and desired species were not restocking. The Forest Service's early developments were focused on forestry, upland game, and recreation. Fire management infrastructure included access roads and lookout towers, fire breaks, and the establishment of a fire protection patrol. Many of these structures remain scattered throughout the forest. The University of Alabama also conducts ongoing research in the damaged area.       
Current Land Management and Use
The site host for Talladega National Forest is the U.S. Forest Service. The mission of USFS is to sustainably manage the nation's forests to meet the needs of present and future generations. Management practices for the watershed at Talladega National Forest includes annual surveys for baseline aquatic species distribution and habitat conditions, development of inventory maps for non-native and invasive species, creation of endangered species protection programs, and protection of riparian vegetation via the elimination of pesticides and clear-cut management practices within riparian boundaries. A revised management plan published in 2004 listed sedimentation as the leading cause of water quality degradation within Alabama National Forest boundaries, as a result of poor forestry and agricultural practices. As a result, current practices within the Talladega National Forest aim to reduce overall loss of riparian vegetation and increase habitat suitability for sensitive species. Current land use is predominantly recreation (hiking, fishing, boating, camping and hunting). Some areas, including the land that TALL and MAYF occupy, are set aside for wildlife preservation. Limited logging is permitted in some parts of the Talladega National Forest.     
NEON Site Establishment
NEON site establishment at Mayfield Creek began in September 2014 with a site survey, which generated a site characterization report (see NEON.DOC.001370). A dry run of operations ran through December 2015, when the site transitioned to full operation. AIS sensors were built in February 2016.
 Aquatic Instrument System (AIS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 08. NEON.DOC.001370vB.
 U.S. Geological Survey, 2005, Mineral Resources Data System: U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 08. NEON.DOC.003892vB.
 NEON Site-Level Plot Summary Talladega National Forest (TALL) (Hatchner, C. (2017). NEON site-level plot summary: Talladega National Forest (TALL). USDA.
 PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, http://prism.oregonstate.edu,created 4 Feb 2004.
 National Forest Service Alabama. (2015). Review of National Forests in Alabama's Revised Land and Resource Management Plan: Year-in-10 Review. USDA and U.S. Forest Service. https://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3856715.pdf.
 Jacobs, R. (2004). Revised Land and Resource Management Plan: National Forests in Alabama. Management Bulletin R8-MB 112A. USDA: Forest Service Southern Region. https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsbdev3_002528.pdf.
 Elkins, D. C., Sweat, S. C., Hill, K. S., Kuhajda, B. R., George, A. L., & Wenger, S. J. (2016). The Southeastern Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. University of Georgia River Basin Center: Athens, GA. 237 p. http://southeastfreshwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/SE_Aquatic_Bi….
 Pasquill Jr., R. G. (n.d.). Talladega Ranger District: History. USDA and U.S. Forest Service: National Forests in Alabama. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/alabama/about-forest/districts/?cid=fsbd….
 National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/articles/the-trail-of-tears-and-the-forced-relocati…
 Kleinman, J. S., & Hart, J. L. (2018). Vascular flora of longleaf pine woodlands after wind disturbance and salvage harvesting in the Alabama Fall Line Hills. Castanea, 83(2), 183-195.
 About the Agency. (n.d.). USDA and U.S. Forest Service: National Forests in Alabama. https://www.fs.usda.gov/about-agency.
 Today: Research & Product Development. (n.d.). USDA and U.S. Forest Service: National Forests in Alabama. https://www.fs.fed.us/forestmanagement/aboutus/today/shtml.
 Walthall, J. A. (1990). Prehistoric Indians of the Southeast: archaeology of Alabama and the Middle South. University of Alabama Press.
 Rogers, W.W., Ward, R.D., Atkins, L.R., & Flynt, W. (2018). Alabama: The History of a Deep South State, Bicentennial Edition. (Bicentennial edition. ed.). Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press. muse.jhu.edu/book/60678.
 Doster, J. F., & Weaver, D. C. (1981). Historic Settlement in the Upper Tombigbee Valley. Alabama University in Birmingham Center for the Study of Southern History and Culture.
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
This site has one meteorological station located in the riparian area. The met station is outfitted with a subset of the same sensors used at terrestrial sites. Measurements include wind speed and direction, air temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, shortwave radiation, and PAR.
Field Site Data
Talladega National Forest
Site Access Allowed
Site Access Details
Researchers should coordinate directly with the US Forest Service for permitting and approval.
NEON Field Operations Office
NEON Field Operations Address
6050 Mimosa Circle, Suite C
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant NLCD Classes
Deciduous Forest, Mixed Forest
Lower Black Warrior
USGS Geology Unit
USGS Geology Name
Tuscaloosa Group; Gordo Formation
USGS Lithologic Constituents
Beds of cross-bedded sand, gravelly sand, and lenticular beds of clay; lower part is predominantly a gravelly sand consisting chiefly of chert and quartz pebbles.
USGS Geology Age
Other Domain D08 Field Sites
Other Field Sites in AL