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 »

Water is key to tropical forest carbon storage

rainforest

Tropical forests are sometimes referred to as the “lungs of the planet,” and for good reason – the high plant biomass of tropical regions produces a large portion of the oxygen we breathe and absorbs significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Rainfall, nutrient availability, and amount of disturbance (natural or human) a forest experiences can all… Read more »

Both local and landscape biodiversity needed to maintain ecosystem services

It stands to reason that a diverse biota would support a diverse range of ecological functions — and the experimental evidence has borne that out at the scale of species and plots. But does the same relationship hold at the scale of communities and landscapes? A large group of researchers, led by former Cedar Creek LTER… Read more »

Early diagnosis: Spatial warning signs of ecological tipping points

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 »

Why smaller oysters? Maybe not Native American shellfishing

Five thousand years ago, Native Americans lived and thrived on Georgia’s coast. Shellfishing, especially the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), was a significant cultural practice of these coastal Natives Americans. Today, Georgia’s coast is peppered with oyster shell deposits from long-term native American consumption. While studying archaeological shell deposits on Georgia’s coast, researchers with the Georgia Coastal… Read more »