Transects across New England landscapes

Title: ‘Transects across New England landscapes: Investigating historical disturbances, vegetation dynamics, and functional changes in forest ecosystems by assimilating FIA, LTER, and Tree-Ring Network data into process-based models’

Sponsor: Joint Venture Agreement with Dr. Yude Pan and the USFS Northern Research Station. April 30, 2017-May 1, 2022


Project Abstract: 

The New England landscape has changed dramatically since European settlement, having experienced natural recovery of forests from agricultural abandonment, and timber harvest over the last century. Despite this, New England forests are vulnerable and subject to natural disturbances such as winter storms, hurricanes, insects and pathogens. These natural and human-induced disturbances have been driving the dynamics of forests across New England, affecting their health, structure, functions, species diversity, and composition. To safeguard New England’s forests for future sustainability and highly-valuable ecosystem services, it is critical to understand their developmental history, their transitions to and interactions with novel environments so we can better estimate their vulnerability and resilience moving into the future.  We propose to investigate historical disturbances, vegetation dynamics, and function changes in forested ecosystems along transects across New England landscapes with the aim to effectively examine different mechanisms controlling forest change. There are two goals of the project we anticipate to achieve: (a) compiling Harvard Forest’s LTER data of disturbances and eddy fluxes, the Tree-Ring Network data in sites along transects in New England, and FIA data of New England; (b) quantifying the impacts of historical disturbances and environmental changes on forest function and structure in New England areas.


Through this work, we expect to improve our understanding of different impacts of different types of disturbances (e.g., timber harvesting, chronic insect infestation, wind and ice storms) on ecosystem functions (e.g. NPP, NEP) and structure (e.g. demography, species diversity), and changes in forest productivities due to changes in natural dynamics or other environmental factors. The knowledge gained from this study will be essential for managing forests in New England areas, improving forest functions and local ecosystem services, and providing scientific basis for projecting future forest status and management planning.



D’Orangeville, Loïc, Malcolm Itter, Daniel Kneeshaw, William Munger, Andrew Richardson, James Dyer, Dave Orwig, Yude Pan, and Neil Pederson. Submitted. Radial growth phenology exposes diffuse-porous species to lower water availability than ring-porous and coniferous trees. New Phytologist.