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

  • Enhanced carbon uptake and reduced methane emissions in a newly restored wetland 

    Yang, Hualei; Tang, Jianwu; Zhang, Chunsong; Dai, Yuhang; Zhou, Cheng; Xu, Ping; Perry, Danielle C.; Chen, Xuechu (American Geophysical Union, 2020-01-04)
    Wetlands play an important role in reducing global warming potential in response to global climate change. Unfortunately, due to the effects of human disturbance and natural erosion, wetlands are facing global extinction. ...
  • Long-term reliability of the figaro TGS 2600 solid-state methane sensor under low-Arctic conditions at Toolik Lake, Alaska 

    Eugster, Werner; Laundre, James A.; Eugster, Jon; Kling, George W. (European Geosciences Union, 2020-05-27)
    The TGS 2600 was the first low-cost solid-state sensor that shows a response to ambient levels of CH4 (e.g., range ≈1.8–2.7 µmol mol−1). Here we present an empirical function to correct the TGS 2600 signal for temperature ...
  • Decreased soil organic matter in a long-term soil warming experiment lowers soil water holding capacity and affects soil thermal and hydrological buffering 

    Werner, William J.; Sanderman, Jonathan; Melillo, Jerry M. (American Geophysical Union, 2020-04-04)
    Long‐term soil warming can decrease soil organic matter (SOM), resulting in self‐reinforcing feedback to the global climate system. We investigated additional consequences of SOM reduction for soil water holding capacity ...
  • Comparative transcriptomics of an arctic foundation species, tussock cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum), during an extreme heat event 

    Mohl, Jonathon E.; Fetcher, Ned; Stunz, Elizabeth; Tang, Jianwu; Moody, Michael L. (Nature Research, 2020-06-02)
    Tussock cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum) is a foundation species for much of the arctic moist acidic tundra, which is currently experiencing extreme effects of climate change. The Arctic is facing higher summer temperatures ...
  • Hydrocarbon seepage in the deep seabed links subsurface and seafloor biospheres 

    Chakraborty, Anirban; Ruff, S. Emil; Dong, Xiyang; Ellefson, Emily D.; Li, Carmen; Brooks, James M.; McBee, Jayme; Bernard, Bernie B.; Hubert, Casey R. J. (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-04-30)
    Marine cold seeps transmit fluids between the subseafloor and seafloor biospheres through upward migration of hydrocarbons that originate in deep sediment layers. It remains unclear how geofluids influence the composition ...
  • An approach to modeling resource optimization for substitutable and interdependent resources 

    Rastetter, Edward B.; Kwiatkowski, Bonnie L. (Elsevier, 2020-03-31)
    We develop a hierarchical approach to modeling organism acclimation to changing availability of and requirements for substitutable and interdependent resources. Substitutable resources are resources that fill the same ...
  • Evaluation of simulated soil carbon dynamics in Arctic-Boreal ecosystems 

    Huntzinger, Deborah N.; Schaefer, Kevin; Schwalm, Christopher R.; Fisher, Joshua B.; Hayes, Daniel; Stofferahn, Eric; Carey, Joanna C.; Michalak, Anna M.; Wei, Yaxing; Jain, Atul K.; Kolus, Hannah; Mao, Jiafu; Poulter, Benjamin; Shi, Xiaoying; Tang, Jianwu; Tian, Hanqin (IOP Publishing, 2020-02-07)
    Given the magnitude of soil carbon stocks in northern ecosystems, and the vulnerability of these stocks to climate warming, land surface models must accurately represent soil carbon dynamics in these regions. We evaluate ...
  • Extraction of high-quality, high-molecular-weight DNA depends heavily on cell homogenization methods in green microalgae 

    Stark, Jordan R.; Cardon, Zoe G.; Peredo, Elena L. (Wiley Open Access, 2020-03-10)
    Premise New sequencing technologies have facilitated genomic studies in green microalgae; however, extracting high‐quality DNA is often a bottleneck for long‐read sequencing. Methods and Results Here, we present ...
  • Unraveling spatiotemporal variability of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in a temperate grassland plot 

    Goldmann, Kezia; Boeddinghaus, Runa S.; Klemmer, Sandra; Regan, Kathleen M.; Heintz‐Buschart, Anna; Fischer, Markus; Prati, Daniel; Piepho, Hans‐Peter; Berner, Doreen; Marhan, Sven; Kandeler, Ellen; Buscot, François; Wubet, Tesfaye (Wiley, 2019-03-14)
    Soils provide a heterogeneous environment varying in space and time; consequently, the biodiversity of soil microorganisms also differs spatially and temporally. For soil microbes tightly associated with plant roots, such ...
  • 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, ...

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