About Field Sites
The Talladega National Forest (TALL) is a terrestrial NEON field site located within the Oakmulgee District of the Talladega National Forest in west-central Alabama, in Hale and Bibb counties. TALL has a total sampling area of 52.3 km2 (12,924 acres) on land that is managed by the U.S Forest Service. It is encompassed within the Fall Line Hills of the Eastern Gulf Coastal Plain Physiographic Region. The site is located in NEON's Ozarks Complex Domain (D08) and is the northernmost aquatic field site in the Domain. D08 has two other terrestrial field sites and three aquatic field sites. TALL is colocated with the Mayfield Creek (MAYF) aquatic site. TALL and MAYF are upstream of the Dead Lake (DELA) and Black Warrior River (BLWA) sites.   
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 average annual temperature is 17.2 °C (63 °F) and the average annual precipitation is about 1380 mm (54.3 in.).  
The parent materials at TALL 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.  
The hydrology of TALL is the same as its colocated Mayfield Creek site, and is located in the Talladega National Forest. 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 across the Oakmulgee District in Talladega National Forest is similar to that of the Upper Costal Plains; however, the topography is more characteristic of the steep slopes of the Appalachian Plateau. TALL is dominated by conifers, with some areas of intermixed conifers, hardwoods, bottomland hardwoods, and wetlands. TALL's canopy is dominated by longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) and loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), with mixed species of oak in the understory. Although the Oakmulgee District is known for its longleaf forests, over 40% of Oakmulgee is covered with hardwoods and wetlands.   
The Oakmulgee is home to Alabama's largest population of endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers (Leuconotopicus borealis), a key indicator species motivating the restoration of the longleaf forest. Common mammal species include white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), black bear (Ursus americanus), coyote (Canis latrans), gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), raccoon (Procyon lotor), and cottontail rabbit (Sylviagus floridanus). Wildlife in the region include several other species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Several endangered, threatened, or sensitive species are found here, including the flattened musk turtle. NEON provides data on birds, small mammals, beetles, mosquitoes, and ticks.   
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. [10-17]
Current Land Management and Use
TALL is located within the Talladega National Forest, which is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Current land use inculdes recreation (hiking, fishing, boating, camping, and hunting), with areas set aside for restoration and wildlife preservation. To restore the native longleaf forest, the Oakmulgee district is removing the non-native and overstocked trees and allowing native conditions to thrive. This process involves commercial timber sale. As a result, active logging operations and traffic on roads can be seen; however, ecological protections are in place. The Oakmulgee district is also restoring the natural fire regime, as several plant and animal species common to this ecosystem depend on fire for their existence. To accomplish this, managers are prescribing fire under specific conditions to simulate natural lightning fires.    
NEON Site Establishment
NEON site characterization at TALL was completed in September 2014. Certain TOS and TIS data products at TALL became available in 2014 and 2015, respectively. The site transitioned to full operations in 2016.
 Terrestrial Observation System (TOS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 08. NEON.DOC.003892vB
 Terrestrial Instrument System (TIS, FIU) Site Characterization Supporting Data: Domain 08 NEON.DOC.011039vD
 U.S. Geological Survey, 2005, Mineral Resources Data System: U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. https://mrdata.usgs.gov/mrds/
 NEON Site-Level Plot Summary Talladega National Forest (TALL) (Hatchner, C. (2017). NEON site-level plot summary: Talladega National Forest (TALL). USDA.
 Aquatic Instrument System (AIS) Site Characterization Report: Domain 08. NEON.DOC.001370vB.
 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.
 Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources: https://www.outdooralabama.com/watchable-wildlife
 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.
 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….
 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.
 National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/articles/the-trail-of-tears-and-the-forced-relocati…
Remote sensing surveys of this field site collect lidar, spectrometer and high-resolution RGB camera data.
This site has a flux/meteorological tower that is 35 m (115 ft) tall with five measurement levels. The tower top extends above the vegetation canopy to allow sensors mounted at the top and along the tower to capture the full profile of atmospheric conditions from the top of the vegetation canopy to the ground. The tower collects physical and chemical properties of atmosphere-related processes, such as humidity, wind, and net ecosystem gas exchange. Precipitation data are collected by a tipping bucket at the top of the tower, a Double Fence Intercomparison Reference (DFIR) near the tower, and a series of throughfalls located in the soil array.
Soil Sensor Measurements
This site has five soil plots placed in an array within the airshed of the flux tower. Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR) at soil surface, soil heat flux, solar radiation, and throughfall are measured at the soil surface in each soil plot. Soil moisture, soil temperature, and CO2 concentration are measured at multiple depths in each soil plot.
At terrestrial sites, field ecologists observe birds and plants, and sample ground beetles, mosquitoes, small mammals, soil microbes, and ticks. Lab analyses are carried out to provide further data on DNA sequences, pathogens, soils, sediments, and biogeochemistry. Learn more about terrestrial observations or explore this site's data products.
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
Domain 08 Support Facility
NEON Field Operations Address
6050 Mimosa Circle, Suite C
Tuscaloosa, AL 35405
NEON Field Operations Phone
Mean Annual Temperature
Mean Annual Precipitation
Dominant Wind Direction
Mean Canopy Height
Dominant NLCD Classes
Deciduous Forest, Evergreen Forest, Mixed Forest
Average number of green days
Average first greenness increase date
Average peak green date
Average first greenness decrease date
Average minimum greenness date
Number of Tower Levels
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
Megapit Soil Family
Fine, loamy, siliceous, subactive, thermic. Typic Hapludults.
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