Researchers started a research site at Toolik Lake in Alaska in 1975 to study arctic lake and streams. Some researchers who would later become part of the Ecosystems Center studied ecosystems at the far-north location of Barrow, Alaska, as part of the International Biological Program from 1971 to 1973. After the IBP ended, some researchers set out to find a new arctic research site, and they chose Toolik Lake, Alaska. Toolik Lake is located in northeast Alaska, in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range of mountains. The US National Science Foundation (NSF) and Department of Energy funded some of the initial ecological studies at Toolik Lake. The arctic ecosystem at Toolik Lake was ideal for terrestrial and aquatic ecological research because while most of the year it was frozen over, it was active during three months in the summer, so researchers could concentrate their studies in a short time period.
Ecosystems Center scientists John Hobbie, Bruce Peterson, and Gus Shaver were involved in the first experiments at Toolik Lake, along with their collaborator, F. Stuart “Terry” Chapin III from the University of Alaska. Scientists from the Ecosystems Center started studying bacteria that lived in the lake and how nutrients in the soil affected plant growth. Hobbie and Peterson began a study on nutrient fertilization starting in 1983 to test how an increase in nutrients might impact organisms in lakes and streams. The researchers added phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers to large, floating corrals in Toolik Lake. They also added phosphorus directly to Kuparuk River, a river near Toolik Lake, and in small tube chambers in the river. Researchers then tracked the changes in the ecosystem—usually seen in the growth of microbes and algae. During the first eight years of the stream fertilization experiment, insect populations increased. But in the second eight years, a moss took over the river bottom, which affected all other biotic communities in the stream.
In 1987, the NSF awarded researchers from the Ecosystems Center a grant to make Toolik Lake a Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site focused on arctic tundra ecosystems. John Hobbie, Brian Fry, Anne Giblin, Knute Nadelhoffer, Bruce Peterson, Ed Rastetter, and Gus Shaver were all involved in the first LTER project at Toolik Lake. The researchers decided that the Arctic LTER should aim to link studies of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems using new experimental techniques such as stable isotope tracer studies. One of the first projects was to collect baseline data, such as nutrient concentrations, pH levels, insect populations, plant species, and weather data. By 1998 researchers made over 1,000 datasets from the Arctic LTER available online.
Researchers decided by 1998 to focus new studies at the Arctic LTER on understanding the effects of global change on arctic ecosystems, and to predict long-term environmental change. Records showed that in the 30 years up to 1998, the temperature of the region had risen by 0.5 degrees Celsius per decade. Researchers wanted to know the impact of predicted temperature change on the region. In one of the long-term experiments at the Toolik Lake site, which started in 1981, researchers studied the impact of increased the temperature and nutrient level of several small plots of land. They used greenhouses to increase the temperature and fertilizer to increase the nutrient levels. Researchers then measured how these experimental variables changed plant and microbial growth and feedbacks, which could help predict how ecosystems might respond to a warmer climate. In recent years, the Arctic LTER has focused on the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on the north Alaskan ecosystem.
Stable Isotope Research
- Peterson et al. 1985
- Peterson and Frye, 1987
Computers and the Internet
- LTER Report: Internet and LTERs 1990
- LTER Report: Tech development LTERs 1991
- NSF Report http://www.nsfnet-legacy.org/about.php
Microbiology and Molecular Biology
- Hobbie et al. 1977
Historical Contet of Climate Change Research
- Canadell et al. 1999
Global Carbon Cycle Project
- Houton et al. 1983
- Moore et al. 1981
- Rastetter and Shaver 1992
Processed-based Models TEM and GEM
- Melillo et al. 1993
- Raich et al. 1991
- Rastetter et al. 1991
Long-term Ecological Research at the EC Historical Context
- Hagan 1992, An Entangled Bank
- Hobbie et al., 2006
Arctic Long Term Ecological Research: Toolik Lake, Alaska
- Chris Neill. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embed...
- Hobbie and Kling, Eds, 2014, Alaska's Changing Arctic: Ecological Consequences for Tundra, Streams, and Lakes
- 1987 LTER NSF proposal
- 1998 LTER NSF proposal
- 2010 LTER NSF prososal
Forest Long Term Ecological Research: Harvard Forest, Massachusetts
- Frey et al. 2013
- LTER 1 grant, 1988 http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/sites/harvard...
- Melillo et al. 2002
Coastal Long Term Ecological Research: Plum Island Sound, Massachusetts
- Hayden et al. 1996 http://atlantic.evsc.virginia.edu/~bph/LTER_LMER/w...
- NSF LTER proposal 1998
- NSF LTER proposal 2002
- Valiela, 1995. Marine Ecological Processes.
- VIMS, Nutrient cycling: http://web.vims.edu/bio/shallowwater/ecosystem_pro...
Ocean Flux Program
- MBL. ND. "Ocean Flux Program." Ecosystems Center a the MBL. http://www.mbl.edu/ecosystems/conte/ofp/
- Chapin III, Stuart F., Pamela A. Matson, Peter M. Vitousek. 2012. Principles of Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology. Springer: New York.
- Conte, Maureen. 2014. "Particle Flux in the Deep Sargasso Sea The 35-Year Oceanic Flux Program Time Series." The Official Magazine of the Oceanography Society Oceanorgraphy. 27(1). http://tos.org/oceanography/assets/docs/27-1_conte...
Semester in Environmental Science Program
- The Ecosystems Center Report 2015-2016
- MBL. ND. "Student Projects." Ecosystems Center a the MBL. http://www.mbl.edu/ses/courses/projects/
- MBL. ND. "Semester in Enviromental Science." Ecosystems Center a the MBL. http://www.mbl.edu/ses/