Bonanza Creek LTER

Wildfire in Alaskan black spruce forests. Photo by Laona DeWilde

Key Research Findings:

Through long-term studies of fire cycles and their links to climate, BNZ scientists have documented an increase in fire severity brought on by climate warming that will likely shift the Alaskan boreal forest from a spruce- to a broadleaf-dominated landscape.
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient that plants need to live and grow. BNZ scientists have discovered that boreal forest trees and other plants can acquire nitrogen from organic compounds known as amino acids rather than mainly from inorganic sources as is the case in almost all other ecosystems.
By tracking seasonal changes in snow cover for decades, BNZ scientists have discovered that the snow free season in the boreal forests of Alaska is lengthening and likely to speed the rate of warming by increasing the amount of light energy absorbed by the land surface.

Overview: The Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research program is located in the boreal forest of interior Alaska, USA. Our facilities are centered in the city of Fairbanks. Research at our LTER site focuses on improving our understanding of the long-term consequences of changing climate and disturbance regimes in the Alaskan boreal forest. Our overall objective is to document the major controls over forest dynamics, biogeochemistry, and disturbance and their interactions in the face of a changing climate. The site was established in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1987 as part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program
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History: The Bonanza Creek LTER is currently in its third funding cycle. LTER 1, LTER 2 and LTER 3 are successive proposals to date. Bonanza Creek operates under LTER 3 but much of the research design for core datasets originates from LTER 1 and LTER 2.
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Research Topics: Successional processes associated with wildfire and floodplains; facilitative and competitive interactions among plant species throughout succession; plant-mediated changes in resource and energy availability for decomposers; herbivorous control of plant species composition; hydrologic regime and stream ecology.
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