The Grasshopper Sparrow – Breeding Nomad of the Grassland Prairie

At first glance, the grasshopper sparrow may not look like much. Native to the tallgrass prairies of the American Great Plains, it’s a small brown and black-speckled bird with a wingspan of 8 inches. But this little bird is gaining recognition for its unusual behavior: it has an amazing ability to cover long distances over… Read more »

Grow with the flow: evaluating the interactive effects of seawater conditions on coral growth

Although coral reefs have been the subject of ecological studies for nearly a century, the role that environmental conditions play in coral development is still a partial mystery. LTER researchers at Mo’orea Coral Reef have been exploring coral-environmental interactions in an effort to better understand coral growth. The team recently investigated how two key abiotic… Read more »

Warmer winters have diverse effects on tree growth

Every step of a tree’s growth is on a strict time-table, from the first emergence of life sprouting up through the soil to the formation of vast green canopies that block out almost all of the sun’s light. These growth cycles (budding leaves, flowering, etc.) are controlled by various environmental factors that act as cues… Read more »

The secret biodiversity of Baltimore’s abandoned lots

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 »

Microbes respond quickly to fluctuating salt marsh conditions

The ebb and flow of the tide through coastal salt marshes brings wide swings in temperature, salinity, oxygen levels and pH. Many of these fluctuations occur at short timescales (e.g. multiple times per day) and have a profound impact on both the types of microorganisms that can exist in such a dynamic environment, and how… Read more »

A tale of two forests: exploring forest management in the Pacific Northwest

“Social forestry” describes the hybrid system of bottom-up grassroots oversight by local stakeholders and top-down, science-informed policy from larger governing bodies to determine forest management practices. Social scientists from the University of Freiburg in Germany and the University of Oregon analyzed the implementation of social forestry through a comparative case study of two National Forests… Read more »

Using Drones to Understand the Timing of Fall and Spring

Overhead view of Harvard Forest LTER site.

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 »