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Environmental Conservation

Results from the proposed new NE multistate project will help us to develop an understanding of how vernal pool ecosystems differ across the region in distribution, hydrology, periods of inundation (hydroperiod), redox chemistry, and carbon storage, flux, and accounting. In addition, we will continue our region-wide focus on hydric soils and hydric indicators to determine if there is a need for additional hydric soil indicators for vernal pool ecosystems.

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.

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.

Increasing environmental stresses make crops ever more succeptible to the impact of plant viruses. Plant viruses affect plant functioning and, specifically, the root system. For example, virus infected cover crops may hamper root growth and activity. This may influence the effect of cover crops on the cycling of carbon and other nutrients in soils. Consequently, virus infections may undermine the beneficial use of cover crops to improve soil health, with unclear consequences for soil carbon storage, greenhouse gas emissions, and nutrient status.

Stormwater BMPs have emerged as essential tools in the mitigating impacts on hydrologic functions resulting from urbanization and its associated impervious surfaces. Yet the effectiveness of the BMPs has been understudied in relationship to effective impervious area and land development patterns linking neighborhood and watershed scales. In addition, there is a need to understand the effectiveness of BMPs under various precipitation patterns, particularly extreme storm events based on the IPCC climate change scenarios.

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.

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.

MASTEP was a "Stormwater Clearinghouse" web site, with a searchable database of verified technical information on stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) to provide information on innovative technologies to BMP users. It was funded by MassDEP until 2014. As it is now out-of-date and no longer funded, we have pulled out the website. We apologize for the inconvenience and suggest looking for similar information in the International Stormwater BMP Database http://www.bmpdatabase.org

 

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.

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.

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