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Department of Environmental Conservation

Hydropedology: Genesis, Properties, and Distribution of Hydromorphic Soils

Researchers will evaluate the potential use of field indicators of hydric soils to characterize wetland hydroperiods with respect to frequency, depth, and duration of water table fluctuations; test the effectiveness of proposed hydric soil indicators to identify 'problem hydric soils'; test monitoring protocols used to identify reducing conditions to determine if they are effective within a range of soil conditions within the Northeast; and investigate the hydraulic properties of hydromorphic soils with episaturation.

Improving Black Bear Management Through Stable Isotope Assessment of Bear Food Habits in the Northeast

Managing conflict between people and black bears is a significant challenge confronting wildlife professionals. In addition, the frequency of conflict is expected to rise as black bear and human populations grow. The challenge is heightened by the species’ large geographic range, acceptance of human disturbance, and propensity to exploit anthropogenic food sources such as garbage cans, bird feeders, apiaries, fruit orchards, and agricultural fields.

Linking ecology and evolution for the conservation of native brook trout in fragmented Massachusetts streams

The dendritic nature of freshwater streams presents unique conservation concerns. Linear streams are prone to fragmentation that can reduce or completely prevent animal migration. Understanding the evolutionary consequences of habitat fragmentation is critical for predicting population response and ultimately the likelihood of population persistence. The goal of this project is to gain further understanding of the genetic and evolutionary consequences of stream fragmentation.

Low-Value Wood in Bamboo Reinforced Glulam

Approximately 60% of the total land area in Massachusetts is forested. Most of this land is privately owned, and often overcrowded with low-value species. In the absence of a market for these trees, the cost of thinning exceeds the value of the timber produced, resulting in minimal to no forest management. Value-added products present a recognized way of marketing these trees while both defraying the costs of thinning and maintaining the economic viability of private forestland.

Modeling Landscape-scale Invasion Risk in Western Massachusetts Forests Using Remote Sensing

Invasive plants in forest understories in Massachusetts threaten native ecosystems and working forests. This research will use satellite remote sensing to map three understory invasive species (buckthorn, honeysuckle, and barberry) in western Massachusetts. Occurrence maps will be compared to geology, topography, and land use to better identify correlates of invasion across the landscape and create maps identifying high invasion risk.

Modeling Risk of Plant Invasions in Massachusetts and Surrounding States Under Current and Future Climate Conditions.

Invasive plants lead to the loss of crop revenue in agricultural systems, damage native habitats and wildlife populations, and alter ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling. This project will map the abundance of 13 problematic invasive plants across the northeastern United States by collecting expert knowledge. We will then predict invasion risk based on current climactic suitability, as well as future risk associated with climate change.

Protecting water security in watershed systems: uncertainty in decision making

Providing steady supplies of water, safe drinking water, and sustaining diverse, healthy aquatic ecosystems are objectives of watershed managers. Disruptions in water supplies and quality can have serious economic and ecological impacts. Addressing water security is becoming an important aspect of watershed management that can increase the sustainability and resiliency of watershed systems. Therefore the question arises: How can water managers plan for and maintain secure water supplies under uncertain conditions?

Quantifying Growth and Establishment of Trees Planted in Residential Settings

The value of trees planted in residential settings has been well documented (Shroeder et al. 2006; McPherson et al. 2007), but value is only realized if trees grow to maturity. The same settings where trees provide benefits, however, present challenging and even severe growing conditions that may thwart survival and growth (Jutras et al. 2010). Empirical data to describe the survival and growth of such trees are limited, and most of the work has considered trees growing in field plots rather than actual residential settings (Watson et al. 1986; Morgenroth 2011).

Red Spruce-Balsam Fir forests in Massachusetts: forest dynamics in natural communities vulnerable to climate change

It has been hypothesized that climate change will cause plant species ranges to shift northward with plants at the south end of ranges declining in vigor and growth rate. The purpose of this research is to test this hypothesis for red spruce and balsam fir along the southern end of the continuous distribution of these species, in Massachusetts. By measuring the growth patterns of these trees, we can determine if the southern end of the range has been declining, relative to more northern stands of these species.

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