Pitch pine-scrub oak barrens are a globally threatened, fire-dependent habitat that harbor numerous declining, rare, or imperiled plant and animal species. Threats to barrens include development, fragmentation, and fire exclusion which have reduced the extent of barrens communities to 10% of their original extent in western Massachusetts. Pitch pine-scrub oak (PPSO) forests are a significant contributor to the biodiversity of the Northeast.
Despite the significant efforts to reduce nitrogen discharge from wastewater treatment facilities (WWTFs), the Long Island Sound (LIS) area affected by hypoxia actually increased over the last decade. Our preliminary research has suggested that WWTFs utilizing the biological nitrogen removal (BNR) process may actually increase particular forms of N that are more potent for algal bloom in LIS. We propose a research plan to evaluate the true impact of upgrading WWTF for N removal (i.e., BNR) on receiving water eutrophication and toxic algal bloom.
The aim of this collaboration between the UMass College of Natural Sciences and the Massachusetts Envirothon is to encourage high school age young people to develop the science literacy, citizen skills, and knowledge of routes to further education and careers that will allow them to participate responsibly and effectively in natural resource conservation and land use decisions in Massachusetts communities.
Little research is available regarding energy use and sourcing decisions among lower-income households, particularly with respect to the efficacy of various behavioral interventions (e.g., providing social norms information; financial vs. social incentives). There is a similar lack of research that examines the barriers to and facilitators of lower-income households adopting small-scale renewable energy technologies (e.g., rooftop solar).
To increase resistance and resiliency to climate change, forest management practices will need to change to ensure species and structural diversity, and adjust to emerging threats, such as invasive species, pests and diseases. As a result of this need, there has been a flurry of development of science-based products and tools to incorporate the additional complexity of climate change and inform decisions about forest management and conservation.
Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and extent of future flood events in New England. Such events pose a substantial threat to both human and natural systems. Not only do the direct effects of extreme flooding harm human and ecosystems, but human responses in the lead up to and the aftermath of these events (such as forest and debris removal, channel alteration and armoring, and gravel mining) also create substantial disturbances. The effect of these human responses may be to alleviate or to exacerbate ecological damage and consequently the impacts of future flood events.
Sustainable design and construction techniques for the United States housing sector are the most economically-effective strategies for preserving natural resources, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating future energy security. More than 90-percent of the housing built in the Northeast is constructed from wood harvested from forests in New England. In the United States, 55-percent of timber production goes into the production of buildings.
Wildlife Conservation engages in applied research and provides information, educational materials and programs based on current research to promote wildlife conservation including efforts to better understand the impacts of roads and highways on wildlife and ecosystems and to develop and evaluate techniques for mitigating those impacts.
The proposal team of the Universities of Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Cornell aim to help stabilize the forested land base by working to ensure that a significant proportion of FFO lands are passed from one generation of landowners to the next with minimal amount of forest conversion and parcelization. The research component of this project will use landowner interviews and a mail survey to better understand how FFOs make decisions about the future of their land.
The study area is the Connecticut River watershed, extending from the U.S.-Canada border north to the Long Island Sound south. The watershed drains over 28,490 Km2 and contains 390 towns and cities with a population of approximately 2.3 million. The watershed has 79% forest cover and 11% agriculture (Marshall and Randhir, 2008b). Modeling the dynamics of FEW systems requires using multiple spatial and temporal processes of watershed hydrology, built energy, and agriculture subsystems.