Hubbard Brook LTER

Measuring Soil Hydraulic Conductivity: Joel Detty (left) and Rachel Cloutier (right), students from Plymouth State University, measuring hydraulic conductivity of soil using a compact constant-head permeameter. (Kevin McGuire)

Key Research Findings:

The critical role that forests play in providing stable flows of pure water was demonstrated in pioneering research at Hubbard Brook. Long-term studies by HBR scientists have clarified the mechanisms underlying these and other forest ecosystem services thereby providing the basis for projecting the social benefits from environmental policies.
Hubbard Brook scientists have produced the longest continuous songbird record in North America and discovered that changing habitat, land use practices, and climate in eastern forests, tropical forests, and migratory routes drive the abundance of these beloved forest musicians.
Hubbard Brook scientists discovered acid rain in North America by taking meticulous, long-term measurements of rain and snow. Scientists continue to document acid rain's damaging effects and track recovery linked to pollution reduction efforts.


The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) is a 3,160 hectare reserve located in the White Mountain National Forest, near Woodstock, New Hampshire. The on-site research program is dedicated to the long-term study of forest and associated aquatic ecosystems.


The HBEF was established by the USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station in 1955 as a major center for hydrologic research in New England. In the early 1960's, Dr. F. Herbert Bormann and others proposed the use of small watersheds to study element cycling. In 1963, the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study (HBES) was initiated by Bormann and Drs. Gene E. Likens and Noye M. Johnson, then on the faculty of Dartmouth College, and Dr. Robert S. Pierce of the USDA Forest Service. They proposed to use the small watershed approach at Hubbard Brook to study linkages between hydrologic and nutrient flux and cycling in response to natural and human disturbances, such as air pollution, forest cutting, land-use changes, increases in insect populations and climatic factors.

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Research Topics:

Vegetation structure and production; dynamics of detritus in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems; atmosphere-terrestrial-aquatic ecosystem linkages; heterotroph population dynamics; effects of human activities on ecosystems.

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