Hurricanes are typically considered destructive and disastrous, with high-speed winds exceeding 75 miles per hour and torrential downpours. These powerful storms can have major impacts on tropical forests, ripping open the forest canopy and causing organic debris to pile up on the forest floor. Despite these seemingly destructive qualities, new research suggests that ecological disturbance… Read more »
In ecology, timing is key to understanding how daily, seasonal, or yearly cycles impact environmental processes. But it’s not just about how often impacts occur, but also over what length of time. Decades worth of data synthesized by researchers at Coweeta LTER provide some of the clearest evidence to date that long-term observations of ecosystem… Read more »
Slip-sliding through the decades I paused at the top of Coweeta Hydrologic Lab’s transect #327, peering down, down, down at the slope beneath me. Katie Bower, a research technician at Coweeta, and two summer interns had already started down the narrow pathway, accustomed to its slippery leaf layer and sharp contours. Taking a deep breath,… Read more »
To evaluate the effects of soil warming, scientists have measured soil gases including methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide as well as nitrogen fluxes every month since 1991, comparing the heated plots to control plots nearby. One of the most interesting results they have documented comes from the forest’s tiniest organisms – the microbes that digest downed leaves and branches (also known as the ecosystem’s detritus). At first, the microbes worked overtime in the heated plots, releasing more carbon dioxide through their respiration.
The hemlock is a native tree species that was once common from northern Alabama to Nova Scotia. Stretching tall with thick needles, the hemlock creates an entire ecosystem beneath its large branches. In the Smoky Mountains, its shade used to cool streams just enough to allow the eastern brook trout to thrive. Unfortunately, these hemlocks are in dramatic decline.
The majority of grasslands around the world have been destroyed or converted for human use, either for agricultural or urban development. In North America, for example, only four percent of the once vast tallgrass prairies are left. Understanding grassland community dynamics could be a critical part of conserving those that remain. Plant-pollinator relationships are… Read more »
If you live in a city, chances are you’ve seen an abandoned lot or two. While urban dwellers may not immediately think of vacant lots as harboring rare species and scenic natural vistas, they are are often candidates for urban conservation, restoration, or greening projects. The success of such projects depends on understanding what processes control… Read more »
As this winter continues to bring freezing temperatures and intense “bomb cyclone” snow storms to the eastern U.S., many are wondering: “When, exactly, will spring arrive?” Researchers with the Harvard Forest LTER were wondering the same thing as they conducted a study using drones to track timing of phenological events in a mixed forest ecosystem… Read more »
The Ocean Sciences Meeting (OSM) has become an important venue for scientific exchange across a wide range of marine science disciplines, especially as human impacts on the oceans reach unprecedented levels. OSM, co-sponsored by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), and The Oceanography Society (TOS), will be held 11–16 February, in… Read more »
Researchers at the North Temperate Lakes (NTL) LTER site have capitalized on the utility of Peter and Paul experimental lakes in northern Michigan in order to improve predictions of ecological tipping points in lake ecosystems. Their two-year study analyzes changes in the lakes’ spatial characteristics, and identifies statistical patterns in those characteristics as potential predictors of ecological… Read more »