This story highlights a current research project at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. To read more about research projects at HBEF, visit Current Research page. Check back regularly to learn about new research projects.
Detrital foodwebs in northern hardwood forest soils


  Contact Info:
  Melany Fisk
Department of Biology
Appalachian State University
572 Rivers St
Boone, NC 28608
phone: (828) 262-6910
phone: (828) 262-6910

THIS WORK investigates links among carbon supply, decomposer activity, and invertebrate populations. We have quantified microbial activity and microarthropods across a series of plots that span an elevation gradient (500 to 800 m) in Watershed 1 and in the watershed west of W6, since 1998.

  Graph of microarthropod biomass  

Coupled to the work on microarthropods and decomposers, Celeste Fiumara is characterizing ground beetle populations for her Master's thesis. Her work uses pitfall trap surveys to compare beetle species composition, diversity and abundance across the elevation gradient and between W1 and the watershed west of W6 (see the beetle species list).

We have also initiated a litter decay experiment in each of the study plots in Watershed 1 and the watershed west of W6. In this experiment we are quantifying mass loss from litter and also microarthropods and microbial activity in decomposing litter. Celeste Fiumara is exploring the influence of beetles on lower trophic levels and on decay processes with a beetle exclosure component of the decay experiment. We hope to more directly tie abundance and activity of soil organisms to patterns of litter decomposition that we observe across the elevation gradient.

  Litter experiments  

This work is part of an NSF-sponsored study of the role of Ca supply in regulating the structure and function of base-poor forest and aquatic ecosystems at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF). In fall 1999, calcium in the form of the mineral wollastonite was added by helicopter to the entire Watershed 1 at the HBEF. Since that time, researchers have been studying the response of organisms and ecosystem processes to the Ca addition. Our work tests the influence of Ca supply on decomposition processes and several components of the detrital food web.

Beetle species list...

Date Prepared: November 2002