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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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Forest dynamics in former plantations

July 23, 2012, by Anne Cervas
This summer, I am working with my mentor, Audrey Barker Plotkin , to study former plantations at the Harvard Forest. We are working in the field to record the growth and changing vegetation dynamics as the former plantations grow back as native forest after a century of plantation forestry. We are also combining data from the Harvard Forest Archives to the data we collect in the field to study the growth and composition of the plantation forests compared to the native second-growth forest. Plantations were an important component of the Harvard Forest in the first fifty years after its...Read more >

Global warming and forest soil micro biomes

July 19, 2012, by Sonia Filipczak
Global Warming has become a topic under much debate, yet carrying implications that affect everyone. Whether you are young or old, plant, animal, or microbe, some of the obvious signs such as less snow in the winter and unbearably hot summers should remind us how much of an impact each individual has on our world. Among all of the individuals on this planet, soil microbes make up a large population and their response to climate change should be of concern. After all, there are more microbes in a teaspoon of soil than people on Earth! Similar to us, microbial communities are affected by the...Read more >

The adventures of taco

July 16, 2012, by Candice Hilliard, Adalyn Naka, and Margaret Garcia
Our first task for our summer project was a giant scavenger hunt throughout the whole forest: find our 100 plots, where we were to take measurements throughout the summer. Armed with our Tacoma, also known as Taco, a GPS unit, a map, and three bug jackets, we began our search. Our plots consist of three short but wide pieces of PVC pipe, called collars, which are each marked by a flag. Here’s a shot of one of our plots—can you find the flags? The collars are where we measure carbon respiration of the soil. Using our lovely Li-Cor, we can get a reading of how much carbon dioxide the soil is...Read more >

Conservation awareness

July 11, 2012, by Laura Bartock and Emma Schnur
Massachusetts is the third most densely populated state, but it is also the eighth most forested with more than 60% of the commonwealth covered by woodland. Of all this vast forested land, private families own more than 75% of it. That means that the future of our forests is in the hands of families just like yours and mine. In order to understand how the forests may change in time, we need to understand how these families are making decisions about their woodlands. That’s why we’re here this summer. We’re working with Dave Kittredge of UMass Amherst on employing the fourth iteration of the...Read more >

Forest and atmosphere dynamics

July 9, 2012, by Alexander Kappel and Paul Quackenbush
Long-term scientific research estimates that northern mid-latitude forests, like the Harvard Forest, store nearly a quarter of the billions of tons of CO2 added to the atmosphere annually by fossil fuel burning ( http://www.lternet.edu/vignettes/hfr.html ). These forests provide an invaluable resource in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and slowing climate change. However, the mechanisms behind carbon sequestration in these forests require more investigation in order to begin to predict how these forests might continue to take in carbon over the coming years with...Read more >

Soil microbial respiration in a warming world

July 2, 2012, by Lauren Alteio
This summer, I am working with Jerry Melillo , Lindsay Scott, and members of the Ecosystems Center at the Marine Biological Laboratory to analyze the activity of soil microbes in response to soil warming. We study the extremely dynamic microenvironments within the soil to understand how the health of forest ecosystems can be affected by global climate change. Soil plots at Prospect Hill have been heated for twenty-one years, meaning the project is older than me! Initially in the project, scientists saw that the amount of carbon dioxide released through microbial respiration was greater in the...Read more >