Research Highlights

The stories below highlight current research projects at the HBEF. This page is updated to reflect changes in the development and scope of current research.


Seedlings are the future of the forest. Seedlings are a means both of population recruitment and migration of trees. That is why we have been paying very close attention to the tree seedlings at Hubbard Brook. With documented increases in growing season length and canopy opening, the centuries of stalemate for immigration of eastern white pine and northern red oak may soon be tipped in favor of these two tree species. Our study started in 2011, shows seedlings that are further into the valley tend to start larger and have higher survival. Read More…

Linkages between hydrology and soil development can provide valuable information for managing forests and stream water quality. This project is aimed at explaining the spatial and temporal variation in stream water chemistry, soils, and runoff areas at the headwater catchment scale using a framework based on the combined study of hydrology and soil development - hydropedology. Read More…

Mean annual temperatures for the northeastern U.S. are projected to increase 3-5 °C by the year 2100, which could increase water and nutrient uptake and carbon storage by trees. However, the increase in temperature will lead to a smaller winter snowpack and increased frequency of soil freeze/thaw cycles, which may offset the positive effects of warming by damaging roots. The overall result could be reduced nutrient uptake and storage of carbon and further elevation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Read More…

barkcankers
Beech Bark Disease (BBD) is an introduced disease of American beech that has had severe effects on the structure of the beech population throughout the Northeastern U.S. The disease was first imported into North America from Europe around 1890, and was first reported in the forest at Hubbard Brook in the 1970s. Caused by the interaction of a scale insect and a bark-cankering fungus, the disease typically kills trees slowly over the course of 10 years or more. Read More…

vegetation
Projected increases in winter air temperatures over the next 100 years are expected to decrease the depth and duration of snowpack in the northeastern U.S., thereby increasing soil exposure to freezing air temperatures. Past research at HBEF has used experimental snowpack reduction to show that reduced snowpack does increase soil freezing. Read More

climate

There is considerable uncertainty about how changing winter climate will alter patterns of snow depth, soil freezing and the processing of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) in ecosystems. Current research is using a landscape-scale approach to evaluate the effects of changes in snow depth on soil freezing, the processing of C, and N retention in the northern hardwood forest. Read More…


soil

Understanding the nitrogen (N) cycle at landscape, regional and global scales is a great current challenge in environmental science. Excess "reactive" N has caused degradation of air and water quality and coastal ecosystems in many areas. The development of solutions to N pollution problems has been hindered by large amounts of "missing N" that dominate N balances at all scales. Read More…


animals

Twenty years of systematic sampling have shown that the abundance of Lepidoptera larvae (caterpillars) in the White Mountain National Forest can be quite variable from one year to the next, producing 50-fold variation in the aggregate biomass of these herbivores.…We have established that these interannual fluctuations in caterpillar abundance and biomass result from the near-synchronous population dynamics of scores of species. Read More…


Visit our research page for more about research projects at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.
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