Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study: Overview and Organization

Overview of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study

The Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, founded in 1963 by G.E. Likens, F.H. Bormann, R.S. Pierce, and N.M. Johnson, is among the longest running and most comprehensive ecosystem studies in the world. Since the establishment of the 3,160-hectare (~7,800-acre) Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire by the USDA Forest Service in 1955, researchers have used the site to study the hydrology, ecology, and management of northern forests. Hubbard Brook scientists pioneered the small watershed approach to understanding forest ecosystems and advanced the use of whole-ecosystem manipulations to quantify the response of forests to disturbance. Hubbard Brook research has figured strongly in the national debates on air pollution, carbon emissions, and forest management.

Hubbard Brook is a member of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network, a group of sites across the continental United States, Alaska, Antarctica, and islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific. The LTER Network was created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1980 to provide the scientific expertise, research platforms, and long-term datasets necessary to document and analyze environmental change. Hubbard Brook is also a member of the USDA Forest Service's Experimental Forests and Ranges, a network of 80 sites encompassing 195 million acres of public land dedicated to long-term science and management studies.

For a detailed description of the Hubbard Brook research site and a synthesis of over 50 years of research, click here.

Hubbard Brook Governance Stucture

Hubbard Brook Governance and Organization

The Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest is administered by the USDA Forest Service as part of the Northern Research Station. Long-term research at Hubbard Brook is conducted jointly by the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station and cooperating academic and research institutions with essential support from the National Science Foundation's LTER Network. The Hubbard Brook Research Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization that supports Hubbard Brook research via policy and outreach programs, education programs, and facilities.

Commitee of Scientists

At the center of the Hubbard Brook governance structure is the "Committee of Scientists" (COS), which consists of principal investigators conducting research in the experimental forest. The membership of the COS is reviewed at three-year intervals. There are currently over 50 members of the Hubbard Brook COS. The Scientific Coordinating Committee (SCC) provides leadership for the COS, overseeing a series of committees, providing vision and scientific leadership to the research program, fostering integration and synthesis across diverse projects, encouraging new scientists to work at the sites, enhancing diversity among the scientific community, and promoting interactions and communication among Hubbard Brook scientists. The SCC has eight members, four of which are elected by the COS. Other members include one of the two Hubbard Brook LTER principal investigators (chosen amongst themselves), the USFS Lead Scientist for the Hubbard Brook Project, the Executive Director of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, and a non-voting external advisor, a scientist not associated with Hubbard Brook, chosen and invited by the other SCC members.

The Research Approval Committee (RAC) is advisory to the USFS Project Leader, who bears ultimate responsibility for research activities at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. This committee evaluates and approves proposed projects, facilitates coordination and prevents conflicts among different research projects at the site. Anyone wishing to conduct research at Hubbard Brook must submit a brief proposal to the RAC (proposals are accepted three times per year). The Information Oversight Committee (IOC) is responsible for the content of the Hubbard Brook web site (, data management and maintenance of the Hubbard Brook data, sample and document archives. The Education and Outreach Committee (EOC) facilitates links between Hubbard Brook research and learning groups ranging from K–12 to local residents to management and policy communities. Other ad hoc committees are designated as the need arises.

The Committee of Scientists gathers quarterly for 1–2-day meetings, typically in January, April, July, and October.