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

  • Seafloor incubation experiment with deep-sea hydrothermal vent fluid reveals effect of pressure and lag time on autotrophic microbial communities 

    Fortunato, Caroline S.; Butterfield, David A.; Larson, Benjamin I.; Lawrence-Slavas, Noah; Algar, Christopher K.; Zeigler Allen, Lisa; Holden, James F.; Proskurowski, Giora; Reddington, Emily; Stewart, Lucy C.; Topçuoğlu, Begüm D; Vallino, Joseph J.; Huber, Julie A. (American Society for Microbiology, 2021-04-13)
    Depressurization and sample processing delays may impact the outcome of shipboard microbial incubations of samples collected from the deep sea. To address this knowledge gap, we developed a remotely operated vehicle ...
  • Stochastic dispersal rather than deterministic selection explains the spatio-temporal distribution of soil bacteria in a temperate grassland 

    Richter-Heitmann, Tim; Hofner, Benjamin; Krah, Franz-Sebastia; Sikorski, Johannes; Wüst, Pia K.; Bunk, Boyke; Huang, Sixing; Regan, Kathleen M.; Berner, Doreen; Boeddinghaus, Runa S.; Marhan, Sven; Prati, Daniel; Kandeler, Ellen; Overmann, Jorg; Friedrich, Michael W. (Frontiers Media, 2020-06-30)
    Spatial and temporal processes shaping microbial communities are inseparably linked but rarely studied together. By Illumina 16S rRNA sequencing, we monitored soil bacteria in 360 stations on a 100 square meter plot ...
  • Shallow soils are warmer under trees and tall shrubs across arctic and boreal ecosystems 

    Kropp, Heather; Loranty, Michael M.; Natali, Susan M.; Kholodov, Alexander L.; Rocha, Adrian V.; Myers-Smith, Isla H.; Abbott, Benjamin W.; Abermann, Jakob; Blanc-Betes, Elena; Blok, Daan; Blume-Werry, Gesche; Boike, Julia; Breen, Amy L.; Cahoon, Sean M. P.; Christiansen, Casper T.; Douglas, Thomas A.; Epstein, Howard E.; Frost, Gerald V.; Goeckede, Mathias; Høye, Toke T.; Mamet, Steven D.; O’Donnell, Jonathan A.; Olefeldt, David; Phoenix, Gareth K.; Salmon, Verity G.; Sannel, A. Britta K.; Smith, Sharon L.; Sonnentag, Oliver; Smith Vaughn, Lydia; Williams, Mathew; Elberling, Bo; Gough, Laura; Hjort, Jan; Lafleur, Peter M.; Euskirchen, Eugenie; Heijmans, Monique M. P. D.; Humphreys, Elyn; Iwata, Hiroki; Jones, Benjamin M.; Jorgenson, M. Torre; Grünberg, Inge; Kim, Yongwon; Laundre, James A.; Mauritz, Marguerite; Michelsen, Anders; Schaepman-Strub, Gabriela; Tape, Ken D.; Ueyama, Masahito; Lee, Bang-Yong; Langley, Kirsty; Lund, Magnus (IOP Publishing, 2020-12-18)
    Soils are warming as air temperatures rise across the Arctic and Boreal region concurrent with the expansion of tall-statured shrubs and trees in the tundra. Changes in vegetation structure and function are expected to ...
  • Not all nitrogen is created equal: differential effects of nitrate and ammonium enrichment in coastal wetlands 

    Bowen, Jennifer L.; Giblin, Anne E.; Murphy, Anna E.; Bulseco, Ashley N.; Deegan, Linda A.; Johnson, David S.; Nelson, James A.; Mozdzer, Thomas J.; Sullivan, Hillary L. (Oxford University Press, 2020-12-09)
    Excess reactive nitrogen (N) flows from agricultural, suburban, and urban systems to coasts, where it causes eutrophication. Coastal wetlands take up some of this N, thereby ameliorating the impacts on nearshore waters. ...
  • Phytoplankton temporal strategies increase entropy production in a marine food web model 

    Vallino, Joseph J.; Tsakalakis, Ioannis (MDPI, 2020-11-03)
    We develop a trait-based model founded on the hypothesis that biological systems evolve and organize to maximize entropy production by dissipating chemical and electromagnetic free energy over longer time scales than abiotic ...
  • Interannual, summer, and diel variability of CH4 and CO2 effluxes from Toolik Lake, Alaska, during the ice-free periods 2010-2015 

    Eugster, Werner; DelSontro, Tonya; Shaver, Gaius R.; Kling, George W. (Royal Society of Chemistry, 2020-07-09)
    Accelerated warming in the Arctic has led to concern regarding the amount of carbon emission potential from Arctic water bodies. Yet, aquatic carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) flux measurements remain scarce, particularly ...
  • Role of C4 carbon fixation in Ulva prolifera, the macroalga responsible for the world's largest green tides 

    Liu, Dongyan; Ma, Qian; Valiela, Ivan; Anderson, Donald M.; Keesing, John K.; Gao, Kunshan; Zhen, Yu; Sun, Xiyan; Wang, Yujue (Nature Research, 2020-09-07)
    Most marine algae preferentially assimilate CO2 via the Calvin-Benson Cycle (C3) and catalyze HCO3− dehydration via carbonic anhydrase (CA) as a CO2-compensatory mechanism, but certain species utilize the Hatch-Slack Cycle ...
  • Cover crops and chicken grazing in a winter fallow field improve soil carbon and nitrogen contents and decrease methane emissions 

    Zheng, Huabin; Zhou, Linhong; Wei, Jiabing; Tang, Qiyuan; Zou, Yingbin; Tang, Jianwu; Xu, Huaqin (Nature Research, 2020-07-28)
    Using symbiotic farming methods [cover crops and chicken grazing (+ C)] in a winter fallow field, we found that the soil organic matter and total nitrogen of the + C treatment were 5.2% and 26.6% higher, respectively, than ...
  • Microbial diversity drives carbon use efficiency in a model soil 

    Domeignoz-Horta, Luiz A.; Pold, Grace; Liu, Xiao-Jun Allen; Frey, Serita D.; Melillo, Jerry M.; DeAngelis, Kristen M. (Nature Research, 2020-07-23)
    Empirical evidence for the response of soil carbon cycling to the combined effects of warming, drought and diversity loss is scarce. Microbial carbon use efficiency (CUE) plays a central role in regulating the flow of ...
  • Shared up-regulation and contrasting down-regulation of gene expression distinguish desiccation-tolerant from intolerant green algae 

    Peredo, Elena L.; Cardon, Zoe G. (National Academy of Sciences, 2020-07-21)
    Among green plants, desiccation tolerance is common in seeds and spores but rare in leaves and other vegetative green tissues. Over the last two decades, genes have been identified whose expression is induced by desiccation ...
  • 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, ...

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