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Summer Research Experience: Student Blog

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July 19, 2018, by Kyle Wyche

L.I.F.E : Living In a Forest Ecosystem

It's 5am and the Sun rays are barely reaching over the horizon when you hear your mentor yell “IT’S A BEAR! GET TO THE CAR!!” . Now, research at the Harvard Forest can lead to some crazy experiences depending on what project you’re on, but don’t worry because if you don’t like bears, experiences like this one, which a fellow
July 27, 2017, by Corey Carter

Kuzushi: The gentle art of balance

Corey at Tram
The forest is like a living organism, it breathes and expels water much like we breathe air. This process of evapotranspiration is… I’m sorry I can’t do this, every blog post, every year talks about the same thing, in a slightly different way. I’m going to talk to about something that has helped me during some dark times and it
July 21, 2017, by Sarah Pardi

Can Manganese Help Save the World from Climate Change? Let’s Find Out!

Sarah performing pyrophosphate mineral extractions. Photo by Alex Gamble
Each morning after I eat breakfast with my fellow researchers/friends, I make my daily commute to University of Massachusetts, Amherst. It’s a beautiful 45 minute drive along windy roads through dense forest and quaint rural towns. Upon arrival at Paige Lab, I get to work on the soil samples I’ve collected from our plot back at Harvard Forest. My research
July 21, 2017, by Jolene Saldivar

When Phenology Meets Technology

Phenology is the biological response to the changing seasons. Day length, temperature, precipitation, and other factors drive leaf-out and leaf fall in trees. In order to avoid undergoing damage by putting their leaves out too early as winter transitions to spring, trees require a particular amount of sunlight each day before leaves can emerge. Similarly, when the hours of daylight
July 13, 2017, by Colleen Smith

The Smallest of the Small, a Step into the Unknown

canopy photo taken with the hemispherical camera
7:00 am Snooze 7:10 am Snooze 7:30 am Wake up, pull on cargo pants, lace up boots 8:10 am Breakfast 9:00 am Walk onward into the lair of the mosquitos with my net on and trustee meter stick in hand This is more or less how I’ve begun each of my days here at Harvard Forest. I have a schedule,
July 12, 2017, by States Labrum

There’s More to the Soil Than You Think

Chloroform addition to measure microbial biomass. Photo by Aaron Aguila
From Spring Hill, Tennessee to Petersham, Massachusetts, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to be here at Harvard Forest. I have learned so much in the short time that I have been here. There are so many outdoor activities to do around the area and there is always something fun going on. All the REU students stay together
July 12, 2017, by Valentin Degtyarev

Trust Me, I’m an Engineer… in the Forest.

Tram starting to move
When you think of someone who is in the field of Computer Engineering, you picture someone who sits indoors in their little cubicle, working with a computer all day. Even when you Google search a computer engineer, you are only shown pictures of geeks like me working indoors, sticking their hands in the complicated wiring of a computer system. That’s
July 9, 2017, by Aaron Aguila

Everyone’s trying to avoid ticks here this summer, I’m trying to find them

Aaron taking samples
When most people think of infectious diseases they think of the common cold, the flu, diseases that we give to each other. Some of the world’s worst outbreaks, however, happened when people moved into uninhabited places or made changes to those local habitats. This summer I have been researching how the makeup of a forest after it has been harvested
July 7, 2017, by Caitlin Keady

Asking the hard questions… about extreme events and tree response

Caitlin showing off core
Who remembers last year’s drought? Well, the trees sure do. Imagine the beginning of spring, when leaves are starting to return and wildflowers are blooming. Then picture a sudden overnight frost. All those plants and trees that were kicking off their growing season likely went into shock and halted growth. Even though the frost only lasted one night, it may
July 5, 2017, by Johnny Buck

Novel Methods, let’s have a party in the Harvard Forest!

Harvard Forest Barn Tower
Don’t you just love the emergence of plants in the spring or the changes in leaf coloring of trees in the fall? I’ve always admired the beauty and complexity of these events growing up. If you really pay attention to nature, you notice the first and last signs of insects at certain times of year, and when the migration of
June 29, 2017, by Molly Leavens

Let’s C About Carbon Capture

Measuring in Transect
Climate change is happening and it is stressing me out. Humans are releasing exorbitant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and simultaneously cutting down forests, a mechanism that re-captures this carbon dioxide. This imbalance is making the world HOT and unleashing innumerable global ecological, financial, and health consequences. The story of climate change
August 2, 2016, by Patrick McKenzie

Improving Forest Change Modeling, One Parameter at a Time

Alongside uncertainty about the stability of future climate conditions comes uncertainty about future landscapes: Where will our forests be in 200 years? Forest landscape models have been designed to address this. Forest landscape models take small-scale ecological phenomena and apply them across large spatial and/or temporal scales. LANDIS-II (“LANdscape DIsturbance and Succession”) is a forest landscape model that consists of
July 29, 2016, by Nathan Stephansky

Isn't that Neat?!

The only constant is change, so I’ve heard. Therefore, life is not about changing the future to attain some desirable outcome, which can be difficult, perhaps impossible, in our ever-changing world. Rather, life is about understanding the present to predict the future to guide us through the unknown. With the changing climate, predicting how ecosystems around the world will respond
July 22, 2016, by Kate Anstreicher

Blowing Bubbles for the Sake of Science

Preview Haiku: (You will understand it by the end of my blog post!) Air-Seeding Threshold: pressure bomb, micropipette… darn. Open vessel. You may see a trend in our 2016 blog post introductions: most students at the Harvard Forest this summer are studying the impact of climate change on the New England forest system. But as you have likely also noticed,
July 11, 2016, by Karina Agbisit

Climate Change Characters

Think of the most negative and dismissive response to the question of whether climate change is happening. Some things that come to mind are probably yelling, denying, references to private property rights, and bashing left-leaning politicians. Now think of the most positive and affirmative response to the same question—dedication to reducing reliance on fossil fuels, references to scientific studies, and
July 8, 2016, by Anna Calderon

Coding the Future (of Ants)

What if you could see into the future? Perhaps you are interested in knowing where your favorite animal or plant may be located fifty or one hundred years from now. It might be difficult to imagine what the world would look like, but species distribution models attempt to do just that. A species distribution model (SDM) is a method used
July 7, 2016, by Lauren Ebels

Ecology Technology: Where Computer Science and Climate Change Collide

In a time when unpredictable weather events like droughts and floods are on the rise and water is thought to be “the next oil” of the world, understanding water reserves in forests is extremely relevant. Our project at Harvard Forest focuses on transpiration—the process of water movement through plants—and strategies for effective long term observation of overall forest health. While
June 27, 2016, by Megan Wilcots

Change is Underfoot

With all the talk of climate change and increased CO 2 emissions wreaking havoc on the globe’s ecosystems, you might think that all the carbon we’re emitting is going straight into the atmosphere, condemning us to a sticky, sweaty future. But, in fact, the global climate has a secret, and it’s beneath your feet. Global soils contain more carbon than
June 22, 2016, by Katie Polik

Soil Science: Sifting, Sampling, and CO2

When most people think of greenhouse gases they think of smoke stacks, car exhaust, and fossil fuels. These all lead to more carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) entering the atmosphere, driving climate change. But there’s another source of CO 2 doesn’t come to mind quite as readily, and it’s right beneath your feet: soil. Soil isn’t all bad news. As
August 4, 2015, by Cody Raiza

East Coast Dreamin’: Six or Eight Legs at a Time

Arriving to Harvard Forest from drought stricken California, I could have never imagined a place with so much water and lush green vegetation; precipitation so thick that the trees "rain" for hours after warm summer showers, rivers hugging every winding country road, and lakes bursting at the seams. New England is a magical place where no one must consider turning
July 29, 2015, by Roxanne Hoorn

Brutally Honest with Ants: "That’s not your color"

Integration of the arts into ecology research seems like an idea whose time has finally come. Unfortunately, nature doesn't seem eager to embrace this expressive movement in the form incorporated in my research: the painting of ants. Nevertheless, as part of our summer project, my research partner Cody Raiza and I would find a colony of our ant genus of
July 24, 2015, by Megan Shadley

Getting to the Bottom of Paleoecology

This summer I have been inducted into a prestigious group on the Harvard Forest grounds known as Club Paleo. The lucky few of us that work in the paleoecology lab attempt to decode climate and forest ecology conditions from thousands of years ago in order to infer how changes in the past could help predict how climate will change in
July 23, 2015, by Alana Thurston

Fun in a Warming Forest

Let's play a word association game: Climate change. Rising waters, acidifying oceans, species migration and extinction, extreme weather, and an ever-warming climate. Yes, all of these things and more. And while these are all of global concern, how about the impacts of climate change on a smaller, more regional level? Here at Harvard Forest, we're asking exactly that. Currently, Harvard
July 21, 2015, by Tess McCabe

Ant-ticipating Change: As forests change, will ants?

Aphaenogaster ant nest
Ants work hard. In fact, a single leafcutter colony can consume more than the average cow . But different ants work hard in different ways. Some will move seeds around, letting plants grow in new areas. Some will build vast underground tunnels that aerate the soil. Different kind of ants are useful. That's where I come in. I do two
July 6, 2015, by Natalie Gonzalez

No Such Thing As Too Much Garlic? Think Again!

One of the first things my driver told me on my way to Harvard Forest from the Boston airport was that Massachusetts was in the middle of a drought. Now I thought this was odd because, looking out of my window, I saw lakes sitting on both sides of the road. Being from California I expected a slightly different view
June 24, 2015, by Forrest Lewis

Seeing Forrest through the Trees

Forrest Lewis and Evan Goldman at Harvard Forest
I've heard a lot of puns, jokes, and quips since starting my research internship at the Harvard Forest last month. But I guess when your parents name you after a bohemian misspelling of a New England biome, you get what you deserve. So whether it was destiny, free will, or "Popular Baby Names 1995" that brought me here, I've come
June 6, 2014, by Sofie McComb

Creating A New England Forest Map

Matthew Duveneck and Sofie McComb analyzing data in the scripting language R
The first week at Harvard Forest has passed and it already feels like I have been here for a month. There is always so much going on and so many things happening that time just flies by. Orientation was a two day whirlwind and finally on day three all the students got to meet their mentors and get to work.
July 22, 2013, by Guillermo Terrazas

Did plants get that climate change memo?

Guillermo Terrazas
I open my sleepy eyes; it is 5 am and my hand cannot make it to the alarm clock before the voices in my head start telling me that it is too early to wake up. I take a deep breath, put my feet on the cold floor and get ready. I stare out the window trying not to fall
July 12, 2013, by Angus R. Chen

The smell of the future

Justine Kaseman and Angus Chen
Justine handles the Li-COR. We walk up a forest road, all dust and shallow braids cut by decades of rain. Clouds are marshaling in the west, promising of another of these torrents that are so frequent and so sudden in these parts. The Li-COR stretching Justine's arms to the earth is what we might call hydrophobic, a piece of electronic
July 10, 2013, by Justine Kaseman

Global warming in a plastic bucket

The elusive red backed salamander.
This summer at Harvard Forest, I am researching the top down effects of vertebrates on the ecosystem. We are using warming chambers which are about 10 feet in diameter and are heated up from 0 degrees to 5.5 degrees celcius over ambient temperature. For our experiment, we have created 3 mesocosms, which are like tiny environments in five gallon buckets.
July 8, 2013, by Lowell Chamberlain

This internship is painfully funny

Lowell Chamberlain
My summer internship at Harvard Forest has been SUPER DUPER interesting. I started this summer with a personal goal: to develop a better understanding of how science is practiced. Simple right? NO, Wrong wrong wrong! This objective has led me through funny, painful, and stressful events that so far have constructed an outrageous collage of wild summer experiences! The funny
July 1, 2013, by Rebecca Walker

Finding the hay in a needle stack

Blackberries
Picture yourself strolling through a pristine, forest wilderness. You might imagine yourself surrounded by towering oaks or ash trees with powerful trunks that could be centuries old, under a dense umbrella of endless, green canopy. In the emerald shade created by the curtain of leaves above you, the air is cool and filled with the chirping of birds that make
June 18, 2013, by Sophie Bandurski

Quick! Identify this fern!

Sophie Bandurski measuring a cinnamon fern in one of the plots using the Li-Cor
Walking into the forest, I never imagined it was comparable to a human body. There are processes occurring constantly that can be both seen and heard, such as birds singing in the trees or spiders spinning webs between the trees. And then there are the ones you cannot see or hear, such as photosynthesis and respiration. My job this summer
June 11, 2013, by Hannah Wiesner

Snapshots from a forest: Comparing 1937, 1992 and 2013

Pat O'Hara measures this tree's DBH, or diameter at breast height.
Laying out two tape measures to create a 22.5m x 22.5m square, my first field exercise this summer took place not within the Harvard Forest’s 3,500 acres, but instead on the lawn behind a residential cabin. We were learning to use a compass to place a stake at the NE, NW, SE and SW corners of the square, which is
June 10, 2013, by David Miller

Boston's a pretty hot town, or at least the trees think so

David Miller
Once again, I find myself wondering why this slope is so steep. The curve shows the approximate date that autumn begins relative to distance from downtown Boston, and the results are mind-boggling. I look over to my research partner, Memo Terrazas, from the University of Texas at Austin. "Fall starts half a day later per kilometer into the city... that
June 4, 2013, by Dmitri Ilushin

Trees on fire

Yeah, I'm the goof who messed up on crossing his arms.
Kenya? Been there. Japan? Seen that. Michigan highway I-96? Saw that last week. The best part is that I can do all this without leaving the comfort of my computer. My research at the forest involves trying to extract the day that leaves come out and when they fall off. The thing is, we don't really notice when the world
August 8, 2012, by Tiffany Carey and Courtney Maloney

Team ragweed

One of the many signs of Spring is the United States’ report on pollen counts across the country. These pollen counts are essential, due to the 35 million Americans who get hay fever every year from pollen. In our project, we investigated whether allergenic pollen concentrations from three ecotypes of common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) produce more pollen in response to
August 6, 2012, by Erin Frick and Jose Luis Rugelio

MODIS satellite imagery as applied to phenological assessment, team BU

MODIS tile
Observations of vegetation phenology can be collected not only from ground-level field studies but also space borne remote sensing instruments. In particular, satellite images may be used to assess vegetative phenophase transition dates such as spring onset, maximum vegetation cover and senescence across regional scales. One approach to such assessment entails analysis of data from the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging
August 6, 2012, by Dmitri Ilushin, Sascha Perry, and Hannah Skolnik

Near remote sensing to track changes in phenology in forests, team Harvard

A representative photo from Kenya of a water buffalo at a watering hole.
This year, the Richardson Lab of Harvard University and the Friedl lab of Boston University set out to study climate change using two different methods, remote sensing and near remote sensing. This summer, the two teams predominantly focused on honing the methods already established by other scientists to study the changing climate as well as widen the subset of biomes
July 19, 2012, by Sonia Filipczak

Global warming and forest soil micro biomes

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
July 9, 2012, by Alexander Kappel and Paul Quackenbush

Forest and atmosphere dynamics

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
July 2, 2012, by Lauren Alteio

Soil microbial respiration in a warming world

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
June 25, 2012, by Matt Combs and Katie Davis

Global climate change with ants and slugs

Ants with Matt Combs Melting wax, digging through sand, and orchestrating the spectacular deaths of entire colonies of ants - seems more fitting for a preschooler than an undergraduate student, working a full-time job. Yet somehow, fate has landed this college senior his dream job: spending the summer in a professional scientific setting while doing things even a little kid
August 23, 2011, by Tara and Kelden

Microbes in a warmer world

A major area of research here at Harvard Forest focuses on understanding the ecological changes within the forest due to a rapidly warming climate. These climate conditions are replicated at the forest using several experimentally warmed plots that are heated by resistance cables placed beneath the soil surface. In collaboration with the Marine Biological Labs (MBL), we attempted to understand
August 23, 2011, by Linn Jennings, Laura Hancock, and Samuel Safran

Ragweed in a changing climate

Ambrosia artemisiifolia , better known as common ragweed, is a leading cause of hay fever allergies. It grows in disturbed areas, like roadsides and abandoned fields. Increased atmospheric CO2 has been shown to increase the pollen production and growth of ragweed. Thus, with predicted changes in land use and climate, pollen production of common ragweed is likely to increase. Our
August 3, 2011, by Natashia, Michael, and Kevin

"Warm ants"

The Warm Ants team is interested in examining the effects of climate change on ecosystem services, species interactions, and biodiversity. We are continuing monitoring of the open top heated chambers at the long term Warm Ants plot through monthly pitfall trapping, winkler sampling, vegetation surveys, and artificial nest investigation. Check out a video we made describing the experimental design of
August 3, 2011, by Bridget, Libby, Lakeitha, Rachel, and Isaac

Climate change impacts on phenology and ecosystem processes of northeastern forests

Phenology is the study of changes in organisms due to the seasonal cycle. Phenological shifts in forest and other ecosystems, due to climate change, could have important impacts on carbon and nutrient cycling. Therefore, it is important to find easy and accurate ways of tracking phenology in numerous ecosystems over an extended period of time. The Harvard Forest has multiple
June 9, 2011, by Moussa Bakari, Julianna Brunini, and Leticia Delgado

Soil carbon dynamics and its controls at Harvard Forest

Like plants and animals, soils “breathe.” That is, the microbes and roots found in dirt release carbon dioxide as they respire, and then the CO2 diffuses its way into the atmosphere. Our project focuses on the rate of this diffusion, or the CO2 flux, because we hope to better understand processes that affect the storage and release of CO2 in
August 12, 2010, by Aleta Wiley

REUs ace summer symposium!

In the final week of the Summer Research Program in Ecology for Undergraduates at Harvard Forest, all 33 students participated in the Student Symposium on August 11-12 in the Fisher Museum. Over a day and a half, all the students presented 15 minute talks to an audience comprising program mentors, university professors, Harvard Forest researchers, family members, and of course,
August 10, 2010, by Elisabete (Baker) Vail

Using models to project how climate change might affect oak species distribution

Imagine if crystal balls which allowed us to catch a glimpse of the future, actually existed? What would you use them to see? Well, in a way – they do exist. In the abstract world of math and computers, “models” are fed datasets of current day information and asked to project future outcomes. Ecologists use them to forecast how current
July 30, 2010, by Israel Marquez

Using GIS to model how climate change and land use will affect the abundance of common ragweed

The big picture of the project I am working in is to model how climate change and difference in land use will affect the allergenic potency of Artemisia artemissifolia , better known as common ragweed. This is the first year of a four-year study, so creating a database that will work for the rest of the project is indispensable. I
July 27, 2010, by Sarah Gray

Soil warming and hardwoods

Here at the Harvard Forest, I am working on the effects of soil warming on various hardwoods. There has already been an experiment to test the effects of global warming on soil. The 20-year-long experiment found that with increased soil temperatures there was an increase in microbial activity. This increase in microbial activity led to more usable nitrogen in the
July 16, 2010, by Crystal Garcia and Angie Marshall

The effects of large-scale deforestation

We are working in the clearcut up on Prospect Hill near the fire tower. Previously, this area was a spruce plantation, but 2 years ago, it was deforested and timber was harvested. This area is now used as a research site to highlight the effects of large-scale deforestation efforts. A flux-tower was set up in the middle of the area
June 30, 2010, by Samuel Perez

Fungal diversity in response to nitrogen deposition and soil warming

Hello everyone, my name is Samuel Perez and I am working on microbial communities at Harvard Forest with Professor Anne Pringle from Harvard University. I am a rising senior majoring in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. This summer, I am working with decomposer fungi in the Chronic Nitrogen Plots and the Soil Warming Plots in Barre Woods. My project at the
June 14, 2010, by Adam Clark and Margaurete Romero

Luna moths on the nightshift

Luna Moth
The Warm Ants project consists of many mini projects taking place within the chambers. One of these projects is a 24-hour baiting, which means that we must observe which ants are attracted to tuna baits set out in the different temperature chambers for all hours of the day, on the hour. Two of us – Margaurete and Adam – took
June 11, 2010, by Aleta Wiley: REU Summer Proctor

“What these numbers actually mean”

Maya, Joanna, and Claudia using a Portable Photosynthesis System.
Yesterday, I tagged along with three students working on a collaborative project who were out, collecting data in the field, for the first time this summer without their research mentors. It is amazing how much they all have learned in less than two weeks here at Harvard Forest! For their project, they are studying changes in soil respiration under varying
June 10, 2010, by Adam Clark, Erik Oberg, and Margaurete Romero

The warm ants group

Margaurete collecting butterflies.
In their third week, the Warm Ants Triumvirate has dived into both the long term "Warm Ants" project and individual projects with a burning desire to elucidate the effects of climate change on ants. Each member is responsible for helping with the long term "Warm Ants" experiment which involves a monthly 24 hour baiting study and monthly pitfall trapping. In