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

  • 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 ...
  • Using noble gases to compare parameterizations of air‐water gas exchange and to constrain oxygen losses by ebullition in a shallow aquatic environment 

    Howard, Evan M.; Forbrich, Inke; Giblin, Anne E.; Lott, Dempsey E.; Cahill, Kevin L.; Stanley, Rachel H. R. (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-09-07)
    Accurate determination of air‐water gas exchange fluxes is critically important for calculating ecosystem metabolism rates from dissolved oxygen in shallow aquatic environments. We present a unique data set of the noble ...
  • Discontinuities in soil strength contribute to destabilization of nutrient‐enriched creeks 

    Wigand, Cathleen; Watson, Elizabeth; Martin, Rose; Johnson, David S.; Warren, R. Scott; Hanson, Alana; Davey, Earl; Johnson, Roxanne; Deegan, Linda A. (Ecological Society of America, 2018-08-20)
    In a whole‐ecosystem, nutrient addition experiment in the Plum Island Sound Estuary (Massachusetts), we tested the effects of nitrogen enrichment on the carbon and nitrogen contents, respiration, and strength of marsh ...
  • Spartina alterniflora δ15N as an indicator of estuarine nitrogen load and sources in Cape Cod estuaries 

    Kinney, Erin L.; Valiela, Ivan (2018-04)
    δ15N values of coastal biota have been used as indicators of land-derived N-loads and sources to estuarine systems and should respond predictably to differences in nitrogen and be sensitive to changes in nitrogen, preferably ...
  • Seasonal patterns of canopy photosynthesis captured by remotely sensed sun-induced fluorescence and vegetation indexes in mid-to-high latitude forests : a cross-platform comparison 

    Lu, Xinchen; Cheng, Xiao; Li, Xianglan; Chen, Jiquan; Sun, Minmin; Ji, Ming; He, Hong; Wang, Siyu; Li, Sen; Tang, Jianwu (2018-06)
    Characterized by the noticeable seasonal patterns of photosynthesis, mid-to-high latitude forests are sensitive to climate change and crucial for understanding the global carbon cycle. To monitor the seasonal cycle of the ...
  • Optimizing resource use efficiencies in the food-energy-water nexus for sustainable agriculture : from conceptual model to decision support system 

    Tian, Hanqin; Lu, Chaoqun; Pan, Shufen; Yang, Jia; Miao, Ruiqing; Ren, Wen; Yu, Qiang; Fu, Bojie; Jin, Fei-Fei; Lu, Yonglong; Melillo, Jerry M.; Ouyang, Zhiyun; Palm, Cheryl A.; Reilly, John M. (2018-04)
    Increased natural and anthropogenic stresses have threatened the Earth’s ability to meet growing human demands of food, energy and water (FEW) in a sustainable way. Although much progress has been made in the provision of ...
  • Using maximum entropy production to describe microbial biogeochemistry over time and space in a meromictic pond 

    Vallino, Joseph J.; Huber, Julie A. (Frontiers Media, 2018-10-01)
    Determining how microbial communities organize and function at the ecosystem level is essential to understanding and predicting how they will respond to environmental change. Mathematical models can be used to describe ...
  • Description and evaluation of the MIT Earth System Model (MESM) 

    Sokolov, Andrei P.; Kicklighter, David W.; Schlosser, C. Adam; Wang, Chien; Monier, Erwan; Brown-Steiner, Benjamin; Prinn, Ronald G.; Forest, Chris E.; Gao, Xiang; Libardoni, Alex; Eastham, Sebastian (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-08-15)
    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Integrated Global System Model (IGSM) is designed for analyzing the global environmental changes that may result from anthropogenic causes, quantifying the uncertainties associated ...
  • Deep soils modify environmental consequences of increased nitrogen fertilizer use in intensifying Amazon agriculture 

    Jankowski, KathiJo; Neill, Christopher; Davidson, Eric A.; Macedo, Marcia N.; Costa, Ciniro; Galford, Gillian L.; Maracahipes Santos, Leonardo; LeFebvre, Paul; Nunes, Darlisson; Cerri, Carlos E. P.; McHorney, Richard; O’Connell, Christine; Coe, Michael T. (Nature Publishing Group, 2018-09-07)
    Agricultural intensification offers potential to grow more food while reducing the conversion of native ecosystems to croplands. However, intensification also risks environmental degradation through emissions of the ...

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