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

  • Methane oxidation and methylotroph population dynamics in groundwater mesocosms 

    Kuloyo, Olukayode; Ruff, S. Emil; Cahill, Aaron; Connors, Liam; Zorz, Jackie K.; Hrabe de Angelis, Isabella; Nightingale, Michael; Mayer, Bernhard; Strous, Marc (Wiley, 2020-02-03)
    Extraction of natural gas from unconventional hydrocarbon reservoirs by hydraulic fracturing raises concerns about methane migration into groundwater. Microbial methane oxidation can be a significant methane sink. Here, ...
  • Microbial community dynamics and coexistence in a sulfide-driven phototrophic bloom 

    Bhatnagar, Srijak; Cowley, Elise S.; Kopf, Sebastian H.; Pérez Castro, Sherlynette; Kearney, Sean; Dawson, Scott C.; Hanselmann, Kurt; Ruff, S. Emil (Wiley, 2020-01-17)
    Background: Lagoons are common along coastlines worldwide and are important for biogeochemical element cycling, coastal biodiversity, coastal erosion protection and blue carbon sequestration. These ecosystems are frequently ...
  • Invasive tunicate (Ascidiacea) metabolic and filtration rates in comparison to native tunicate and bivalve species 

    Zhang, Yingqi; Deegan, Linda A.; Carman, Mary R. (Regional Euro-Asian Biological Invasions Centre, 2019-10-30)
    Several invasive species of tunicates (Ascidiacea) have become cosmopolitan and widely distributed in coastal areas worldwide over the past few decades. These nonindigenous tunicates have consequently caused fouling problems ...
  • Tidal wetland resilience to sea level rise increases their carbon sequestration capacity in United States 

    Wang, Faming; Lu, Xiaoliang; Sanders, Christian J.; Tang, Jianwu (Nature Research, 2019-11-28)
    Coastal wetlands are large reservoirs of soil carbon (C). However, the annual C accumulation rates contributing to the C storage in these systems have yet to be spatially estimated on a large scale. We synthesized C ...
  • Plant uptake offsets silica release from a large arctic tundra wildfire 

    Carey, Joanna C.; Abbott, Benjamin W.; Rocha, Adrian V. (American Geophysical Union, 2019-07-24)
    Rapid climate change at high latitudes is projected to increase wildfire extent in tundra ecosystems by up to fivefold by the end of the century. Tundra wildfire could alter terrestrial silica (SiO2) cycling by restructuring ...
  • Interaction between pollution and climate change augments ecological risk to a coastal ecosystem 

    Lu, Yonglong; Wang, Ruoshi; Shi, Yajuan; Su, Chao; Yuan, Jingjing; Johnson, Andrew C.; Jenkins, Alan; Ferrier, Robert C.; Chen, Deliang; Tian, Hanqin; Melillo, Jerry M.; Song, Shuai; Ellison, Aaron M. (Taylor & Francis, 2018-07-31)
    Pollution and climate change are among the most challenging issues for countries with developing economies, but we know little about the ecological risks that result when these pressures occur together. We explored direct ...
  • Hurricanes enhance labile carbon export to the deep ocean 

    Pedrosa-Pamies, Rut; Conte, Maureen H.; Weber, John C.; Johnson, Rodney (American Geophysical Union, 2019-08-16)
    Tropical cyclones (hurricanes) generate intense surface ocean cooling and vertical mixing resulting in nutrient upwelling into the photic zone and episodic phytoplankton blooms. However, their influence on the deep ocean ...
  • Soil warming accelerates biogeochemical silica cycling in a temperate forest. 

    Gewirtzman, Jonathan; Tang, Jianwu; Melillo, Jerry M.; Werner, William J.; Kurtz, Andrew C.; Fulweiler, Robinson W.; Carey, Joanna C. (Frontiers Media, 2019-09-11)
    Biological cycling of silica plays an important role in terrestrial primary production. Soil warming stemming from climate change can alter the cycling of elements, such as carbon and nitrogen, in forested ecosystems. ...
  • Supporting Spartina: Interdisciplinary perspective shows spartina as a distinct solid genus 

    Bortolus, Alejandro; Adam, Paul; Adams, Janine B.; Ainouche, Malika L.; Ayres, Debra; Bertness, Mark D.; Bouma, Tjeerd J.; Bruno, John F.; Caçador, Isabel; Carlton, James T.; Castillo, Jesus M.; Costa, Cesar S.B.; Davy, Anthony J.; Deegan, Linda A.; Duarte, Bernardo; Figueroa, Enrique; Gerwein, Joel; Gray, Alan J.; Grosholz, Edwin D.; Hacker, Sally D.; Hughes, A. Randall; Mateos‐Naranjo, Enrique; Mendelssohn, Irving A.; Morris, James T.; Muñoz‐Rodríguez, Adolfo F.; Nieva, Francisco J.J.; Levin, Lisa A.; Li, Bo; Liu, Wenwen; Pennings, Steven C.; Pickart, Andrea; Redondo‐Gómez, Susana; Richardson, David M.; Salmon, Armel; Schwindt, Evangelina; Silliman, Brian; Sotka, Erik E.; Stace, Clive; Sytsma, Mark; Temmerman, Stijn; Turner, R. Eugene; Valiela, Ivan; Weinstein, Michael P.; Weis, Judith S. (Ecological Society of America, 2019-09-19)
    In 2014, a DNA‐based phylogenetic study confirming the paraphyly of the grass subtribe Sporobolinae proposed the creation of a large monophyletic genus Sporobolus, including (among others) species previously included in ...
  • Nitrogen cycle patterns during forest regrowth in an African Miombo woodland landscape 

    Mayes, Marc; Melillo, Jerry M.; Neill, Christopher; Palm, Cheryl; Mustard, Jack; Nyadzi, Gerson (American Geophysical Union, 2019-05-08)
    Tropical dry forests in eastern and southern Africa cover 2.5 × 106 km2, support wildlife habitat and livelihoods of more than 150 million people, and face threats from land use and climate change. To inform conservation, ...
  • Future nitrogen availability and its effect on carbon sequestration in Northern Eurasia 

    Kicklighter, David W.; Melillo, Jerry M.; Monier, Erwan; Sokolov, Andrei P.; Zhuang, Qianlai (Nature Research, 2019-07-09)
    Nitrogen (N) availability exerts strong control on carbon storage in the forests of Northern Eurasia. Here, using a process-based model, we explore how three factors that alter N availability—permafrost degradation, ...
  • Functional traits and spatio-temporal structure of a major group of soil protists (Rhizaria: Cercozoa) in a temperate grassland. 

    Fiore-Donno, Anna Maria; Richter-Heitmann, Tim; Degrune, Florine; Dumack, Kenneth; Regan, Kathleen M.; Marhan, Sven; Boeddinghaus, Runa S.; Rillig, Matthias C.; Friedrich, Michael W.; Kandeler, Ellen; Bonkowski, Michael (Frontiers Media, 2019-06-11)
    Soil protists are increasingly appreciated as essential components of soil foodwebs; however, there is a dearth of information on the factors structuring their communities. Here we investigate the importance of different ...
  • Framework for sustained climate assessment in the United States 

    Moss, Richard H.; Avery, Susan K.; Baja, Kristin; Burkett, Maxine; Chischilly, Ann Marie; Dell, Janet; Fleming, P. A.; Geilf, Kerrie L.; Jacobs, Katharine L.; Jones, Alan H.; Knowlton, Kim; Koh, Jay; Lemos, Maria Carmen; Melillo, Jerry M.; Pandya, Rajul; Richmond, Terese; Scarlett, Lynn; Snyder, Jared; Stults, Melissa; Waple, Anne; Whitehead, Jessica; Zarrilli, Daniel; Fox, James; Ganguly, Auroop; Joppa, Lucas; Julius, Susan; Kirshen, Paul; Kreutter, Rebecca; McGovern, Amy; Meyer, Ryan; Neumann, James; Solecki, William; Smith, Joel; Tissot, Philippe; Yohe, Gary; Zimmerman, Rae (American Meteorological Society, 2019-06-04)
    As states, cities, tribes, and private interests cope with climate damages and seek to increase preparedness and resilience, they will need to navigate myriad choices and options available to them. Making these choices in ...
  • Evaluating knowledge to support climate action: A framework for sustained assessment. report of an independent advisory committee on applied climate assessment. 

    Moss, Richard H.; Avery, Susan K.; Baja, Kristin; Burkett, Maxine; Chischilly, Ann Marie; Dell, Janet; Fleming, P. A.; Geil, Kerrie L.; Jacobs, Katharine L.; Jones, Alan H.; Knowlton, Kim; Koh, Jay; Lemos, Maria Carmen; Melillo, Jerry M.; Pandya, Rajul; Richmond, Terese; Scarlett, Lynn; Snyder, Jared; Stults, Melissa; Waple, Anne; Whitehead, Jessica; Zarrilli, Daniel; Ayyub, Bilal M.; Fox, James; Ganguly, Auroop; Joppa, Lucas; Julius, Susan; Kirshen, Paul; Kreutter, Rebecca; McGovern, Amy; Meyer, Ryan; Neumann, James; Solecki, William; Smith, Joel; Tissot, Philippe; Yohe, Gary; Zimmerman, Rae (American Meteorological Society, 2019-05-21)
    As states, cities, tribes, and private interests cope with climate damages and seek to increase preparedness and resilience, they will need to navigate myriad choices and options available to them. Making these choices in ...
  • Climate and lawn management interact to control C4 plant distribution in residential lawns across seven U.S. cities. 

    Trammell, Tara; Pataki, Diane E.; Still, Christopher J.; Ehleringer, James R.; Avolio, Meghan L.; Bettez, Neil D.; Cavender-Bares, Jeannine; Groffman, Peter M.; Grove, J. Morgan; Hall, Sharon J.; Heffernan, James B.; Hobbie, Sarah E.; Larson, Kelli L.; Morse, Jennifer L.; Neill, Christopher; Nelson, Kristen; O'Neil-Dunne, Jarlath; Pearse, William D.; Roy Chowdhury, Rinku; Steele, Meredith K.; Wheeler, Megan M. (Ecological Society of America, 2019-04-01)
    In natural grasslands, C4 plant dominance increases with growing season temperatures and reflects distinct differences in plant growth rates and water use efficiencies of C3 vs. C4 photosynthetic pathways. However, in ...
  • Water salinity and inundation control soil carbon decomposition during salt marsh restoration: An incubation experiment. 

    Wang, Faming; Kroeger, Kevin D.; Gonneea, Meagan E.; Pohlman, John W.; Tang, Jianwu (Wiley Open Access, 2019-02-10)
    Coastal wetlands are a significant carbon (C) sink since they store carbon in anoxic soils. This ecosystem service is impacted by hydrologic alteration and management of these coastal habitats. Efforts to restore tidal ...
  • Effect of continuous light on leaf wax isotope ratios in Betula nana and Eriophorum vaginatum: Implications for Arctic paleoclimate reconstructions 

    Daniels, William C.; Huang, Yongsong; Russell, James M.; Giblin, Anne E. (Elsevier B.V., 2018-08-22)
    Reconstructions of climate using leaf wax D/H ratios (δDwax) require accounting for the apparent isotopic fractionation (εapp) between plant source water and waxes. There have been conflicting publications on whether plants ...
  • Contributions of photosynthetic organs to the seed yield of hybrid rice: The effects of gibberellin application examined by carbon isotope technology 

    Zheng, Huabin; Wang, Xiaomin; Li, Yunxia; Huang, Zhanwen; Tang, Qiyuan; Tang, Jianwu (Zheng et al., 2018-12-01)
    Changes in the structure and quality of a hybrid combination population have been observed after the application of gibberellins. Such changes would affect the accumulation and distribution of photosynthetic products, which ...
  • Stable isotopic evidence of nitrogen sources and C4 metabolism driving the world’s largest macroalgal green tides in the Yellow Sea 

    Valiela, Ivan; Liu, Dongyan; Lloret, Javier; Chenoweth, Kelsey; Hanacek, Daniella (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-11-28)
    During recent years, rapid seasonal growth of macroalgae covered extensive areas within the Yellow Sea, developing the world’s most spatially extensive “green tide”. The remarkably fast accumulation of macroalgal biomass ...
  • Environmental controls, emergent scaling, and predictions of greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes in coastal salt marshes 

    Abdul-Aziz, Omar I.; Ishtiaq, Khandker S.; Tang, Jianwu; Moseman-Valtierra, Serena M.; Kroeger, Kevin D.; Gonneea, Meagan E.; Mora, Jordan; Morkeski, Kate (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-07-28)
    Coastal salt marshes play an important role in mitigating global warming by removing atmospheric carbon at a high rate. We investigated the environmental controls and emergent scaling of major greenhouse gas (GHG) fluxes ...

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