Archive for the ‘Summer 2014’ Category

Relief! Happily smiling after giving our talks. (Left: Kelly, Middle: Maggie, Right: Cailene)

This year marked the 51stHubbard Brook Cooperator’s meeting held at the Forest Service Headquarters at Hubbard Brook on July 9-10th. These meetings comprised two days of 8 minute talks rich of knowledge, data and intellectually stimulating science being done right here at Hubbard Brook! We, the soil science REU girls (Kelly and Cailene), as well as David, the meteorology guy, each gave talks at these meetings in front of our mentors, peers and all the scientists of HBRF, including the brilliant Gene Likens, one of the founding fathers of Hubbard Brook!! We prepared for these talks for quite some time, Kelly focusing on “C-horizon permeability and the Hubbard Brook Hydropedology Initiative," Cailene on “Soil Juice: Soil expulsion as an alternative method to traditional lysimetry” and David on "The atmospheric and environmental conditions responsible for high stream flow." We approached these meetings with much enthusiasm, a little bit of nervousness, and a whole lot of practice. Here’s a bit more on our individual experiences:

Kelly: It was such a wonderful opportunity being able to attend the Cooperator’s meeting this year. So much diverse research goes on here, ranging from microbiology to social reactions to climate change research, from meteorology to orchid studies, and the meetings are a wonderful way to bring the large and heterogeneous community of Hubbard Brook together to learn about all that goes on beyond our narrow research focuses. So much of the material covered flew completely over my head: it was both humbling and inspiring to realize just how much I have yet to learn in my field.

Presenting at the meetings myself was, admittedly, fairly nerve-racking. Cailene and I, who have worked together closely throughout the summer and generally function to keep each other sane, in this case only served to enable each other’s madness. I think we are both naturally anxious people, and the prospect of presenting our research in front of such a large and expert crowd was, to say the least, intimidating. I do not know how many times we practiced our presentations for each other, or how many silent glances of mutually-felt panic we exchanged in the days leading up to the meetings, but I do know that by the time I actually stood up to present, Cailene had heard my talk enough times that she probably knew it better than I did! Thank you Cailene, I’m sure I would never have been able to do this without your support! Though it was stressful anticipating the meetings, looking back in retrospect I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to present at the meetings, and in fact just to have been able to attend at all. It was a truly enjoyable and enlightening experience from start to finish.

Cailene: I LOVE the Hubbard Brook Cooperator’s meeting! I feel fortunate to have been a part of such a unique event that allows attendees to share and learn about the wonderful projects that make the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation what it is. As exhausting and mentally stimulating as these two days of meetings are, they are an incredible opportunity for scientists to share research and receive feedback from the supportive, intellectual curious community of individuals who attend the meetings. Accordingly, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to share my own REU project with the HB community. It did, however, come with its challenges…

The daunting, empty conference room before it was filled with the HBRF community

I’ve never been much of a public speaker, so the thought of giving a talk about my project to a sea of brilliant scientists had me shaking in my hiking boots. Together, Kelly and I spent hours upon hours practicing our talks and making endless corrections to our PowerPoint presentations. Kelly, my mentor Dr. Scott Bailey and Maggie Burns (who is a research tech and good friend at HB) were extremely supportive and helped make my talk a success that I look back on with a smile (Many thanks to those three!). From preparing my data and making the presentation, to delivering the talk with confidence and enthusiasm, the entire process was an invaluable learning experience. The best part of all, however, was getting feedback from scientists of all different fields and leaving the meetings with new and exciting ideas for my project! The meetings were a wonderful experience and I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this annual event!

David: This was my second year giving a presentation at the annual cooperative meeting. I truly enjoyed the opportunity. Though it is definitely a nerve racking situation to stand in front of so many highly regarded and incredibly intelligent people, it was something that allowed me to learn and grow in so many ways. Listening to the presentations of others and seeing the passion they all had for their project’s was truly inspiring. The value of these meetings is truly priceless. The amount of knowledge I gained within that 2 day span is incredible. The feedback that other scientists from many different backgrounds provided me has propelled my project forward. If you’re a lover of science and you have the opportunity to attend the meetings, do not pass it up! I look forward to attending again.

I was also immensely impressed with the presentations of my fellow REU’s. They were able to grab my attention and keep me wanting more. Now that’s saying something because they were talking about soil and I am a meteorologist! I give huge props to all of the speakers at this year’s meetings and especially to Cailene and Kelly!

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Hello I’m Ben Poling, a student at Virginia Tech studying Forest Resource Management and policy.  I am currently living in Christiansburg Virginia but am originally from a small town in western New York.  I served in the United States Navy for two enlistments and in 2012 decided to go to college and study natural resources.  Here at Hubbard Brook I will be researching to find if soil drainage characteristics play a pivotal role in the mode of tree damage observed after a windstorm.  I am working with Dr. Natalie Cleavitt of Cornell University who will be mentoring me on my quest to find answers!

Windstorm damage is a frequent occurrence in mountain’s and heavily forested areas.  Modes of damage can vary from snap-off to complete uproot and often is dependent on landscape conditions.  In this study we are proposing to look at the correlation between soil drainage characteristics and mode of damage during a windstorm.  In short we want to find out if the soil type and drainage characteristics predispose trees to a certain mode of damage.  The main questions we mean to answer in this study are: Do soil drainage characteristics play a bigger role in mode of tree damage than soil depth, and does this relationship change with storm intensity?  Focal tree species in this study will be American Beech (Fagus grandifolia), Red Spruce (Picea rubens), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) and Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis).  We are primarily looking at tree snap-off’s and uprooting as this appears to be the most frequent mode of damage observed in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest.  This would be the first time soil drainage characteristics and tree damage have been looked at solely in this manor, but not the first time windstorm damage has been investigated.  In earlier studies it has been noted that tree diameter at breast height (DBH) and species (SPP) played a large role in mode of damage (Chris J. Peterson and S.T.A. Pickett 1991).  In 2013 C.J. Peterson et al. compared windthrow damage by size of disturbance area while maintaining soil characteristics, tree species, climate and topography as constants.  In another study data was collected on 12 coniferous tree species looking at rooting depth and anchorage in different soils with a focus on Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) to be utilized for wind risk models (Bruce C. Nicoll et al. 2006).  We find that this study is in closest resemblance to our own but does not address certain details we wish to address that will be more applicable to glacial till in the mountains.  This is an important matter because it can give insight as to what we can expect in future windstorms in terms of damage and areas that are at the highest risk of damage.  As more and more people move into the wildland urban interface (WUI) this matter becomes even more pressing in terms of predicting for the type and level of tree damage and to what extent the damage will be as this information can save homes and more importantly the lives of people living in the WUI.  From a scientific standpoint this study can be continued and expanded upon to include many other at risk regions and can be utilized for modeling programs to help predict windstorm damages.

Thanks for reading about my project and what I will be working on, I hope that you found it interesting and informational.  Please feel free to ask any questions about the project, I will be happy to answer them, and keep following the blog for updates as I will be posting periodically throughout the rest of the summer.  Till next time…

Benjamin T. Poling

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REU Introduction: Josiah Weeks

¡Hola mis amigos! My name is Josiah Weeks and I am a native New Hampshirite who will be a senior at

A handsome devil sitting outside of Pleasant View Farm

Plymouth State University this fall. Growing up in NH’s Lakes Region, my love of nature has been nurtured by constant contact with mountains, lakes, rivers, and forests. Since beginning classes at PSU my love for the outdoors has evolved into a passion for conservation, animal biology, and ecology. As far as this summer goes, I’m excited to be getting to spend my days out in the field, hiking the White Mountains, swimming in Mirror Lake, and learning Español from some of my fellow estudiantes here at Pleasant View Farm.

This summer at Hubbard Brook I am working on a stream ecology project with Dr. Kerry Yurewicz. The goal of my study is to analyze the diversity and abundance of invertebrates transitioning to stream systems from the surrounding forest and vice versa. After doing this I want to compare how these factors vary between conifer and deciduous forests. In order to collect my data on stream invertebrate output, I will use emergence traps, which capture insects leaving the stream after changing into their adult forms. To determine the input of invertebrates into the streams I have put out pan traps, which are simply

An emergence trap looking worse for wear after being swept downstream

trays filled with water and a few drops of dish soap. The soap reduces the surface tension so that anything that falls in will go under the water, rather than staying on top and possibly escaping before I can record what they are. I am expecting to see variation between forests due to differences in habitat preference and nutrient availability in different forest types.

My data collection was going well prior to a big rainstorm that brought in approximately 5 inches of precipitation and carried off all 40 of my traps. Now I’m back in the building stage, but will hopefully be back on track soon. And to throw a positive spin on this, I can now say that I have experienced true field research, because as many supportive scientists here at HB have told me, “Fieldwork never goes as it is planned”. Thanks for reading, adios!

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REU Introduction: David Morgan

Enjoying the cold winter on Mt.Monadnock

Hello! My name is David Morgan. I am going into my senior year at Plymouth State University where I am studying meteorology. I was born and raised right here in the great state of New Hampshire. Naturally I enjoy spending time outdoors and taking advantage of the amazing environment available here in the Granite State. I am an avid hiker who loves the mountains in every season of the year. I have been interested in meteorology for almost as long as I can remember. I have known I wanted to study the atmosphere since I was 9 years old. It was then that I watched in amazement as a towering thunder cloud built upward into the sky and pulsed with electricity. I have been fascinated by the study of weather ever since. Weather affects everybody in one way or another. My passion is in understanding why different weather related phenomenon are occurring and how they are impacting everyone. This summer I will be working on a project that combines both meteorology and hydrology in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the causation behind high stream flow in a small watershed.

I will be working with Eric Kelsey, Scott Bailey and many others on this project. The main goal is to develop a forecasting model that takes into account both the environmental and the atmospheric conditions that are causing high stream flow here at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest at watershed 3. In order to do this we will be studying the 99.6th percentile of instantaneous stream flow events. In other words we will be looking at the most extreme daily flow values from the entire stream flow record. Each event will then be analyzed in terms of parameters such as precipitation, snowmelt, antecedent soil moisture, the type of storm that caused the event, the storms track and the atmospheric moisture content. A hydrograph will be created for each event and base flow will be separated out so that an event runoff volume can be determined. This will allow us to understand exactly how much water was coming out of the stream during each peak flow event. After this we will compare the different causation variables to the event runoff volume and determine which factors play a larger role in high stream flow. Once we know what is causing high stream flow events we plan to develop a binary regression model using statistics that will predict a probability of a high stream flow occurrence knowing the atmospheric and environmental conditions.

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REU Introduction: Jamal Jarrett

Our "American Gothic" pose

Hey there! My name is Jamal Jarrett and I am currently a graduating senior at Tennessee State University in Nashville, Tennessee. I am a biology major, minoring in chemistry and history. I am enjoying my time in New Hampshire, it is VERY different from what I am used to, but that is a good thing. I am originally from Kansas and never seen these many mountains!  Since I have been up here I can count on two hands how many times I have heard, “Toto, I have a feeling were not in Kansas anymore.” I love to stay active by working out, playing sports, hiking, and bicycling. I also enjoy drawing, reading history, and learning things about different cultures.

I am mentored by Don Buso and Dr. Michelle Pruyn. My main project with Don consists of looking at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest Watershed 6 site specific forest history and major disturbances (from 1800 to present) to see how much of an impact they actually had on forest growth and species composition (hardwoods vs conifers). The reason why we are reexamining the history is because we know most of these disturbances (such as 1910 cut, 1938 hurricane, 1942 salvage logging) happened but don’t know to what severity and W6 has served as the biogeochemical reference watershed for HBEF since 1963. In the past, red spruce were more common in the lower elevations of W6 before major logging happened which promoted regrowth of hardwoods.

Tree cookies of dead Red Spruce saplings

This summer I will aim to supply data for the reconstruction of a multi-modal timeline of W6’s biomass release.  It is important to look back and understand the history of HB so we can get an idea of forest resiliency and sustainability with following damage to the forest. My data will consist of tree cookies of dead spruce saplings (2-10 cm in diameter) west of W6 and a ranking of live spruce saplings health in the area. Hopefully, I can find reoccurring disturbances within the rings of the cookies, red spruce age structure within the area, and other correlations with my data. This historical study of the removal of  red spruce population by logging can be paired with studies of calcium and nitrogen cycling that could be related to forest’s response to climatic warming.

My other project with Michelle, I am looking at wood anatomy of Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, and American Beech tree’s growth rings before and after calcium addition in Hubbard Brook. Calcium is a component of wood growth and we are comparing average vessels, lumen area and number, fiber cell wall thickness, and fiber length to see how trees respond.

Gathering roots from a Yellow Birch tree

So far I have taken part in running course roots, testing them for their conductivity by running a mixture of water and HCL through them to see how fast they absorb and push the water through the other side. I also have played a part in sap flow sensor construction, which monitors obviously sap flow. My favorite part thus far of the project is slicing the roots (very thin) and looking at the anatomy under the microscope. It’s pretty cool to look at, but it is an art to it.  Defining the differences in response to increases in calcium availability and other nutrients will help us explain why trees grow where they do, improving forest management practices.

Until next time readers, I will be sure to give you an update on my projects, adventures, and experiences when the summer progresses.

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Jessica hiking in the Sierra de Francia!

Hello everyone! My name is Jessica Hernandez and I am originally from the Central Valley of California. Growing up with the valley at my feet, a trio of mountain ranges in my backyard, and the ocean never more than a short drive to the west, it’s no wonder why I have been passionate about studying biology since before I can remember! As a rising senior and Biology major at Pomona College in southern California, I’ve become increasingly curious and enamored with the field of conservation biology and amphibians. So what better way to spend my summer than to study one of the most interesting amphibians on earth: salamanders!

Under the mentorship of Dr. Jon Davenport, I will be studying the influence of behavioral traits on homing behavior in the northern spring salamander, Gyrinophilus porphyriticus, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. To better understand this influence, I will be collecting two genetically divergent populations of salamanders from Kineo Brook and testing them for boldness or shyness traits. Afterwards, salamanders will be displaced from their original capture location to see if they successfully move back “home.” I’m looking forward to discover if there is an existing correlation between the boldness or shyness of a salamander and it’s movement towards or away from home.

Understanding the ability (or inability) of salamanders to return after being moved away from their home will shed some light on how such individuals would respond to displacement as a result of natural or anthropogenic events, such as extreme flooding, drought, or urban planning. Overall, the ultimate success of salamanders when it comes to homing may have significant consequences in terms of isolated populations and gene flow. The behavioral component of this study is also important to consider since the “boldness” or “shyness” of an individual may be significant in his or her ability to home—or respond to displacement—successfully.

An adult northern spring salamander!

As a study species, salamanders, like most amphibians, are extremely unique in that they breathe partially or entirely through their skin. Northern spring salamanders, in particular, belong to the family of “lungless salamanders” and rely completely on their skin to breathe. This porousness absorbs water as well as gases, such as oxygen and nitrogen, which makes salamanders extremely sensitive to environmental changes. Since salamanders are able to absorb pollutants, their decline over the past few decades is a significant cause for concern. Therefore, understanding their movements and ability to respond to natural events will give us a window into current, and potentially impending, population and ecosystem dynamics. And, hopefully, by the end of the summer we’ll be able to use boldness and shyness trends in salamander populations to predict some of these movements!

So far I am having an incredibly amazing time chasing salamanders in the streams of the White Mountains and exploring all of the natural treasures the Atlantic Northeast has to offer!

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REU Introduction: Cailene Gunn

Digging up inactive prenart lysimeters!

Hello, hello! My name is Cailene Gunn. I am a rising junior at Bates College studying geology with a focus on environmental geochemistry! I hail from a small town in northern Connecticut where I grew up hiking, frolicking and enjoying the great outdoors. As much as I adore the beautiful rolling hills and farmlands of my hometown, I am thrilled to be spending my summer in the stunning state of New Hampshire with the White Mountains as my playground. Aside from hiking, I spend much of my free time painting mason jars, stargazing and listening to happy music. But when hard at work, it's all about the soils!

This summer I’m working with Dr. Scott Bailey on the soil water chemistry project. Soils are important indicators of the health and integrity of an ecosystem and the chemistry of soil water solution can provide valuable information about plant nutrient availability, pollutant transport and hydraulic processes within an ecosystem. Unfortunately, it is difficult to accurately obtain and determine the chemistry of soil solutions. The traditional method of lysimetry for soil extraction is expensive and typically limited to small-scale studies within research centers like Hubbard Brook. My job is to develop a technique called soil water expulsion (or "soil juicing," in more colloquial terms). Soil expulsion a unique methodology for extracting soil water in a non-invasive, relatively inexpensive manner. Soil expulsion allows one to saturate and expel solution from any soil sample from any site, so the development of this method has the potential to extend soil survey projects to broader, more accessible landscapes!

Soil expulsion experiment set up at the Forest Service Headquarters on a beautiful day

I'm  currently in the protocol-building stage of my project. I've been busy testing the effects of saturation time, pressure and homogenization on the chemistry of the soil solution obtained through expulsion. Once I come up with a consistent, reproducible protocol, I will compare soil expulsion, zero-tension lysimetry and tension (prenart) lysimetry through various chemical analyses. If we conclude soil expulsion as a reliable technique, it could help further studies on the effects of pollution in forest ecosystems, stream ecology, anthropogenic perturbation on natural processes etc. Consequently, increased knowledge about these issues could lead to a better understanding of forest ecosystems and more effective policy implementations in the future.

Until the next post, thanks for reading and keep a look out for updates on my project and stories of exciting adventures to come!

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Beginning the Blog

REU students at Plymouth State

On June 11, 2014 Hubbard Brook REU students sat in on a discussion led by June Hammond Rowan about the REU blog. We are currently using this blog post to learn how to blog!

To gain access to the blog site, REU students have to use their Plymouth State account. Then everyone can start posting. We anticipate posting about cooking, trees, water, dirt, salamanders, bugs, and weather to name a few! Students will supplement their learning by participating in activities in their area of interest (like hiking, swimming...)

Part of the session this evening was spent discussing writing and developing a writing habit. Encourage others to write. Have writing parties! Don't avoid writing because of your imperfect lamp. Maybe keep a journal, or an online journal, such as a blog!

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Summer 2014

Welcome to the Plymouth State University/Hubbard Brook Research Experience for Undergraduates program for the summer of 2014! Students participating this summer will be posting about their projects and related activities. Please check back often to learn more about their summer.

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