NSF awards Harvard Forest $4.9 million to study landscape change

October 04, 2006

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 4, 2006 -- The National Science Foundation has awarded Harvard University's Harvard Forest $4.9 million to study drivers, dynamics, and consequences of landscape change in New England. The six-year grant, the largest in the Harvard Forest's 99-year history, will support research on forest responses to natural and human disturbances across the northeastern U.S.

Led by Harvard Forest Director David Foster, Harvard researchers and students will collaborate with scientists from the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Woods Hole Research Center, Brandeis University, Michigan State University, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts.

"The Long Term Ecological Research study lies at the heart of the Harvard Forest's interdisciplinary research and education program in ecology and conservation," Foster says. "This funding will support faculty and students across the life, physical, and social sciences at Harvard and beyond to investigate critical ecological processes and environmental issues confronting the eastern U.S."

Foster and colleagues will examine the drivers of landscape change for human populations and diverse natural ecosystems in the eastern U.S. Drivers range from microbes to moose, invasive plants to exotic insects, hurricanes to forest harvesting, and global climate change to regional land-use. Their consequences will be explored through historical and regional studies, long-term measurements, modeling, and controlled experimental manipulations -- several of which are well into their second decade.

Findings could be incorporated into regional plans for land protection and management and inform local, state, national, and international policy on conservation, natural resource management, and the environment.

The new NSF funding continues research begun in 1988 when the Harvard Forest, a 3,000-acre ecology and conservation center in Petersham, Mass., was first named as one of the NSF's 15 LTER sites. Established to support the lengthy research required to interpret many important natural processes, the LTER network is the largest ecological research program in the United States.

"The LTER program now includes 26 sites from the Arctic to the Antarctic, including systems as diverse as coral reefs and cities (Baltimore and Phoenix), as well as forests," says Henry Gholz, LTER program director at the NSF. "Harvard Forest has been a central site in LTER since its establishment, making major contributions to our understanding of the legacy effects of agricultural clearing 200 years ago on today's northeastern forests, as well as the effects of hurricanes, invasive species, and more recent forest management."
The NSF grant will support work by more than 25 scientists, including Foster, co-investigator Aaron Ellison, Harvard faculty collaborators Kathleen Donohue, Richard Forman, Paul Moorcroft, J. William Munger, and Steven Wofsy, and ecosystem scientists, ecological modelers, archaeologists, and an environmental historian.

Along with graduate students from the biological, physical, and social sciences, Harvard College undergraduates will also participate in this research effort through the Harvard Forest Summer Research Ecology Program. Education and outreach will extend from elementary to graduate students, as well as ongoing interactions with conservation organizations and public agencies.

Founded in 1907, the Harvard Forest is Harvard University's center for field research and education in ecology and conservation, as well as one of the oldest and most intensively studied landscapes in North America. It is a department within Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences and administers Harvard's masters degree in forest science. More information can be found at http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu.

Harvard University

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.