The plot 5 survey was initially a daunting task. 123 trees of varying species, sizes, and ages were scattered over an area that was approximately 30x30 yards. In surveying this plot, our group worked on a number of tasks for each tree: tagging, identifying, measuring diameter, estimating height, plotting geographical location, and calculating age. This process, based on the impressive density of the plot, took five trips of several hours each to the plot in the middle of the pinetum. Apart from the physical surveying, the project took additional hours indoors working on computers to map coordinates, analyze data, create graphs, and put together a solid presentation. This is what we found:
Of the 123 trees on the Creek Beach plot, 63 were American Beech trees and 25 were Shortleaf Pine trees. These two species, out of the seventeen species we identified, made up nearly three quarters of the total trees. We categorized our trees in groups based on height, and the largest group was made up of trees under 10 feet tall. The average age of the trees in our plot was 24 years. The average diameter was 12.41 cm.
Our group found it interesting that all of the trees in our plot were native to North Carolina. There were only a few trees that stood out from the rest: we had one Carolina Silver Bell tree, one Water Tupelo tree, one Witch Hazel tree, one Mountain Maple tree, and one Mockernut Hickory tree. The rest of the trees were easily identifiable based on trees we were familiar with and trees that were very prevalent in out plot.
Though many of us were unaware of the pinetum's close proximity to campus, we were surprised at the rich biodiversity found there. The walk through the pinetum to get to our plot was relatively short, but full of things to take in. It was amazing to see how much tree diversity can exist so close to a highly populated University. We hope that other students will learn about and take advantage of the incredible piece of nature that is located so close to our campus. Getting to experience this "secret" made this project enjoyable.