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Foundation Species Matter

Researchers at Harvard Forest and six other LTER sites brought the transformational concept of a "foundation species" into terrestrial ecology. Individual foundation species disproportionately influence local biodiversity and modulate ecosystem dynamics. This intellectual advance has motivated a new research agenda in ecology with broad applications to global change studies and investigations of species loss.

Ellison, A. M., M. S. Bank, B. D. Clinton, E. A. Colburn, K. Elliott, C. R. Ford, D. R. Foster, B. D. Kloeppel, J. D. Knoepp, G. M. Lovett, J. Mohan, D. A. Orwig, N. L. Rodenhouse, W. V. Sobczak, K. A. Stinson, J. K. Stone, C. M. Swan, J. Thompson, B. von Holle, and J. R. Webster. 2005. Loss of foundation species: consequences for the structure and dynamics of forested ecosystems. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9: 479-486.
Foster, D.R., W.W. Oswald, E.K. Faison, E.D. Doughty, and B.C.S. Hansen. 2006. A climatic driver for abrupt mid-holocene vegetation dynamics and the hemlock decline in New England. Ecology 87: 2959-2966.
Stadler, B., Muller, T., Orwig, D. A. 2006. The ecology of energy and nutrient fluxes in hemlock forests invaded by the hemlock woolly adelgid. Ecology 87: 1792-1804.
Ellison, A. M., A. A. Barker-Plotkin, D. R. Foster, and D. A. Orwig. 2010. Experimentally testing the role of foundation species in forests: the Harvard Forest Hemlock Removal Experiment. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 1: 168-179.
Templer PH and TM McCann. 2010. Effects of the hemlock woolly adelgid on nitrogen losses from urban and rural northern forest ecosystems. Ecosystems 13:1215-1226.
Dr. Aaron M. Ellison
A hemlock stand studied by HFR researchers working in Connecticut during early infestation by the hemlock woolly adelgid (top: 2002) and after further infestation (bottom: 2008).
David A. Orwig, Harvard Forest
Ten thousand years of changes in hemlock abundance at North Pond (green) and oak abundance at Deep Pond (purple) in Massachusetts. The abrupt decline of hemlock and oak ~5,400 years ago is associated with a long period of recurring drought (red).
Unpublished data of W. W. Oswald and D. R. Foster.



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