The Ecosystems Center carries out research in ecosystems that range from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from Brazil to Martha’s Vineyard. In the Alaskan Arctic, scientists study the effect of warmer temperatures on tundra, stream and lake ecosystems. On the Arctic rivers of Eurasia, they measure how freshwater discharge is changing as the climate warms. On the western Antarctic peninsula, research focuses on the responses of the marine coastal ecosystem to rapid climate warming. In the western Amazon in Brazil, researchers assess how much the clearing of tropical forests will change the amount of greenhouse gas released into the atmosphere, while on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, scientists used controlled burns to restore coastal ecosystems. In central Massachusetts and in Abisko, Sweden, soil warming experiments are conducted to assess the forest’s response to climate warming. In northeastern Massachusetts, scientists study how changes in rural land use and urban development affect the flow of nutrients and organic matter into New England estuaries. In Boston Harbor, they measure the transfer of nitrogen from sediments to the water column as the harbor recovers from decades of sewage addition.

Recent Submissions

  • Stage-discharge relationship in tidal channels 

    Kearney, William S.; Mariotti, Giulio; Deegan, Linda A.; Fagherazzi, Sergio (2016-12)
    Long-term records of the flow of water through tidal channels are essential to constrain the budgets of sediments and biogeochemical compounds in salt marshes. Statistical models which relate discharge to water level ...
  • Changes in substrate availability drive carbon cycle response to chronic warming 

    Pold, Grace; Grandy, A. Stuart; Melillo, Jerry M.; DeAngelis, Kristen M. (Elsevier, 2017-03-22)
    As earth's climate continues to warm, it is important to understand how the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to retain carbon (C) will be affected. We combined measurements of microbial activity with the concentration, ...
  • A gradient of nutrient enrichment reveals nonlinear impacts of fertilization on Arctic plant diversity and ecosystem function 

    Prager, Case M.; Naeem, Shahid; Boelman, Natalie; Eitel, Jan U. H.; Greaves, Heather; Heskel, Mary; Magney, Troy; Menge, Duncan N. L.; Vierling, Lee; Griffin, Kevin L. (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-03-22)
    Rapid environmental change at high latitudes is predicted to greatly alter the diversity, structure, and function of plant communities, resulting in changes in the pools and fluxes of nutrients. In Arctic tundra, increased ...
  • Diel plant water use and competitive soil cation exchange interact to enhance NH4+ and K+ availability in the rhizosphere 

    Espeleta, Javier F.; Cardon, Zoe G.; Mayer, K. Ulrich; Neumann, Rebecca B. (Springer, 2016-11-12)
    Hydro-biogeochemical processes in the rhizosphere regulate nutrient and water availability, and thus ecosystem productivity. We hypothesized that two such processes often neglected in rhizosphere models — diel plant water ...
  • Shrub encroachment in Arctic tundra : Betula nana effects on above- and belowground litter decomposition 

    McLaren, Jennie; Buckeridge, Kate M.; van de Weg, Martine J.; Shaver, Gaius R.; Schimel, Joshua P.; Gough, Laura (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-04-07)
    Rapid arctic vegetation change as a result of global warming includes an increase in the cover and biomass of deciduous shrubs. Increases in shrub abundance will result in a proportional increase of shrub litter in the ...
  • Seasonal variations of leaf and canopy properties tracked by ground-based NDVI imagery in a temperate forest 

    Yang, Hualei; Yang, Xi; Heskel, Mary; Sun, Shucun; Tang, Jianwu (Nature Publishing Group, 2017-04-28)
    Changes in plant phenology affect the carbon flux of terrestrial forest ecosystems due to the link between the growing season length and vegetation productivity. Digital camera imagery, which can be acquired frequently, ...
  • Slowed biogeochemical cycling in sub-arctic birch forest linked to reduced mycorrhizal growth and community change after a defoliation event 

    Parker, Thomas C.; Sadowsky, Jesse; Dunleavy, Haley; Subke, Jens-Arne; Frey, Serita D.; Wookey, Philip A. (Springer, 2016-08-25)
    Sub-arctic birch forests (Betula pubescens Ehrh. ssp. czerepanovii) periodically suffer large-scale defoliation events caused by the caterpillars of the geometrid moths Epirrita autumnata and Operophtera brumata. Despite ...
  • Modeling for understanding v. modeling for numbers 

    Rastetter, Edward B. (2016-11)
    I draw a distinction between Modeling for Numbers, which aims to address how much, when, and where questions, and Modeling for Understanding, which aims to address how and why questions. For-numbers models are often ...
  • Belowground competition among invading detritivores 

    Chang, Chih-Han; Szlavecz, Katalin; Filley, Timothy; Buyer, Jeffrey S.; Bernard, Michael J.; Pitz, Scott L. (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-01-29)
    The factors regulating soil animal communities are poorly understood. Current theory favors niche complementarity and facilitation over competition as the primary forms of non-trophic interspecific interaction in soil ...
  • Global evaluation of gap-filling approaches for seasonal NDVI with considering vegetation growth trajectory, protection of key point, noise resistance and curve stability 

    Liu, Ronggao; Shang, Rong; Liu, Yang; Lu, Xiaoliang (2016-11)
    A variety of approaches are available to fill the gaps in the time series of vegetation parameters estimated from satellite observations. In this paper, a scheme considering vegetation growth trajectory, protection of ...
  • Carbon dioxide fluxes reflect plant zonation and belowground biomass in a coastal marsh 

    Moseman-Valtierra, Serena M.; Abdul-Aziz, Omar I.; Tang, Jianwu; Ishtiaq, Khandker S.; Morkeski, Kate; Mora, Jordan; Quinn, Ryan K.; Martin, Rose M.; Egan, Katherine E.; Brannon, Elizabeth Q.; Carey, Joanna C.; Kroeger, Kevin D. (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-11-15)
    Coastal wetlands are major global carbon sinks; however, they are heterogeneous and dynamic ecosystems. To characterize spatial and temporal variability in a New England salt marsh, greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes were compared ...
  • Ecosystem responses to climate change at a Low Arctic and a High Arctic long-term research site 

    Hobbie, John E.; Shaver, Gaius R.; Rastetter, Edward B.; Cherry, Jessica E.; Goetz, Scott J.; Guay, Kevin C.; Gould, William A.; Kling, George W. (Springer, 2017-01-23)
    Long-term measurements of ecological effects of warming are often not statistically significant because of annual variability or signal noise. These are reduced in indicators that filter or reduce the noise around the ...
  • Extreme rainfall and snowfall alter responses of soil respiration to nitrogen fertilization : a 3-year field experiment 

    Chen, Zengming; Xu, Yehong; Zhou, Xuhui; Tang, Jianwu; Kuzyakov, Yakov; Yu, Hongyan; Fan, Jianling; Ding, Weixin (2016-12)
    Extreme precipitation is predicted to be more frequent and intense accompanying global warming, and may have profound impacts on soil respiration (Rs) and its components, i.e., autotrophic (Ra) and heterotrophic (Rh) ...
  • Solute and sediment export from Amazon forest and soybean headwater streams 

    Riskin, Shelby H.; Neill, Christopher; Jankowski, KathiJo; Krusche, Alex V.; McHorney, Richard; Elsenbeer, Helmut; Macedo, Marcia N.; Nunes, Darlisson; Porder, Stephen (John Wiley & Sons, 2017-01-04)
    Intensive cropland agriculture commonly increases streamwater solute concentrations and export from small watersheds. In recent decades, the lowland tropics have become the world's largest and most important region of ...
  • Aspirations and common tensions : larger lessons from the third US national climate assessment 

    Moser, Susanne C.; Melillo, Jerry M.; Jacobs, Katharine L.; Moss, Richard H.; Buizer, James L. (2015-10)
    The Third US National Climate Assessment (NCA3) was produced by experts in response to the US Global Change Research Act of 1990. Based on lessons learned from previous domestic and international assessments, the NCA3 was ...
  • TraitBank : practical semantics for organism attribute data 

    Parr, Cynthia Sims; Schulz, Katja S.; Hammock, Jennifer; Wilson, Nathan; Leary, Patrick R.; Rice, Jeremy J.; Corrigan, Robert J. (IOS Press, 2016-10-11)
    Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) has developed TraitBank (http://eol.org/traitbank), a new repository for organism attribute (trait) data. TraitBank aggregates, manages and serves attribute data for organisms across the tree of ...
  • Chlorophyll fluorescence tracks seasonal variations of photosynthesis from leaf to canopy in a temperate forest 

    Yang, Hualei; Yang, Xi; Zhang, Yongguang; Heskel, Mary; Lu, Xiaoliang; Munger, J. William; Sun, Shucun; Tang, Jianwu (2016-11)
    Accurate estimation of terrestrial gross primary productivity (GPP) remains a challenge despite its importance in the global carbon cycle. Chlorophyll fluorescence (ChlF) has been recently adopted to understand photosynthesis ...
  • Long-term warming alters carbohydrate degradation potential in temperate forest soils 

    Pold, Grace; Billings, Andrew F.; Blanchard, Jeffrey L.; Burkhardt, Daniel B.; Frey, Serita D.; Melillo, Jerry M.; Schnabel, Julia; van Diepen, Linda T. A.; DeAngelis, Kristen M. (American Society for Microbiology, 2016-09-02)
    As Earth's climate warms, soil carbon pools and the microbial communities that process them may change, altering the way in which carbon is recycled in soil. In this study, we used a combination of metagenomics and bacterial ...
  • Saltmarsh plant responses to eutrophication 

    Johnson, David S.; Warren, R. Scott; Deegan, Linda A.; Mozdzer, Thomas J. (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-10-20)
    In saltmarsh plant communities, bottom-up pressure from nutrient enrichment is predicted to increase productivity, alter community structure, decrease biodiversity, and alter ecosystem functioning. Previous work supporting ...
  • Emerging opportunities and challenges in phenology : a review 

    Tang, Jianwu; Körner, Christian; muraoka, hiroyuki; Piao, Shilong; Shen, Miaogen; Thackeray, Stephen; Yang, Xi (John Wiley & Sons, 2016-08-18)
    Plant phenology research has gained increasing attention because of the sensitivity of phenology to climate change and its consequences for ecosystem function. Recent technological development has made it possible to gather ...

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