Harvard Forest<br/><br/>Temperate forests, such as those that dominate the eastern United States, are critically important ecosystems at regional to global scales. They harbor a diversity of species and habitats, provide essential resources, offer important amenities to densely populated regions, and comprise key elements in global carbon budgets. Understanding the structure, function and patterns of these ecosystems and anticipating their responses to natural disturbance, environmental change and anthropogenic disturbances and stress are therefore critical societal goals that depend on a sound knowledge of fundamental ecological processes. Such insight can only be gained through long-term, interdisciplinary research that integrates field studies, measurements, experiments and modeling over a range of temporal and spatial scales.<br/><br/>The Harvard Forest LTER program seeks to interpret ecological pattern and process in New England forests and to apply this knowledge to regional and global issues in forest conservation, land restoration and protection, public policy and the environment. Over the past decade, the program has matured into a collaboration that applies unique approaches in historical and community ecology, ecophysiology, atmospheric chemistry and ecosystem studies to the interpretation of long-term, large-scale experiments and measurements, mechanistic studies and retrospective research. This research has produced over 300 publications, a synthesis book, an annual research program for more than 35 students, and innovative approaches to regional, national and international cross-site studies.<br/><br/>Phase III of the research will (1) extend measurements, modeling and historical studies to regional scales, (2) interpret landscape development, vegetation and wildlife dynamics, and ecosystem patterns in relationship to millennial-scale climate change, land use and disturbance, (3) evaluate ecosystem responses to critical ongoing disturbances and stresses (e.g., forest cutting and conversion, ozone and nitrogen pollution, and invasions by pests and non-native species, (4) interpret long-term measurements and responses to experimental treatments mechanistically and in relation to inter-annual and inter-decadal variation and history, and (5) apply these results to understanding the current and projected role of this region in global carbon storage.
LTER III: Long Term Ecological Research at Harvard Forest