2014 Research Projects REU Program


Dispersal and species interactions in headwater streams (one student): In this study, we are investigating how stream characteristics can affect dispersal and the strength of predation and competition within headwater stream communities.  We use a multi-pronged approach (mark-recapture surveys, behavioral assays and manipulative experiments) to gather data on vertebrate stream communities across the Hubbard Brook valley in New Hampshire.  The REU student working on this project will have the opportunity to participate in surveys of stream salamanders and Brook Trout and to help run an artificial stream experiment.  The REU will be able to develop and conduct a research project incorporating either of these elements under the broad theme of dispersal and species interactions.  Past projects have investigated salamander homing behavior, behavioral predator-prey interactions between salamanders, salamander feeding ecology and Brook Trout dispersal.  (Dr. Jon Davenport and Dr. Winsor Lowe)

Stream insect ecology (one student): Aquatic insects are diverse, abundant, and play important roles in the transfer of energy in stream food webs.  The goal of our work is to better understand the biotic and abiotic factors that shape stream insect communities.  We will guide a student in developing a project that fits into this broad theme, for example by comparing sites either within or between streams that differ with respect to the presence of fish, physical characteristics, or disturbance frequency.  As part of this research team, an REU student can gain experience in both field sampling and laboratory identification work. (Dr. Kerry Yurewicz)

Hydrology and Soils:

Soil water chemistry (one student): Chemical analysis of soil water has been used as a primary indicator of ecosystem integrity. For example, calcium to aluminum ratio in soil water has been used to develop policy in Europe and North America to evaluate air pollution impacts to forests. However, data on soil water chemistry are difficult to obtain, usually only available from greenhouse studies or from lysimeters installed at research centers such as Hubbard Brook. This project seeks to develop soil water expulsion as a novel methodology for soil water collection that does not involve the expensive installation of lysimeters and can thus be used to survey conditions across the broader forest landscape. It will offer experience with soil sampling and lysimetry in the field and evaluating effectiveness and reproducibility of alternative expulsion procedures with laboratory analyses. (Dr. Scott Bailey)

Below ground spatial variability (one student): The earth’s critical zone has been described as the narrow portion from the tops of the trees to the bottom of the groundwater that sustains life on Earth. Yet, most of the critical zone below our feet is relatively unknown and difficult observe. This project will involve observations and sampling of soils, glacial deposits and bedrock to further understand the below ground structure of Hubbard Brook. Sampling will include hand dug pits and cores obtained with a diamond-tipped backpack drill. There will be opportunities to collaborate with soil scientists and glacial geologists who will be mapping the broader White Mountain National Forest. (Dr. Scott Bailey)

Biogeochemistry and Limnology:

Chemistry and hydrology of Mirror Lake (one student): The Mirror Lake study, adjacent to the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, has been operating for almost 50 years and has resulted in two books and numerous scholarly publications. It has been called one of the most studied lakes in the world and thus provides a rich context for student work.  REU students on this project will be exposed to many facets of the study and have the opportunity to develop independent projects on topics including, but not limited to: time series analysis of nutrient loading, road salt contamination, groundwater interactions, introduced species, and physical limnology and hydrology.  (Dr. Gene Likens and Don Buso).

Forest Ecology:

Plant population ecology (two students): The forest community ecology team (Fahey, Battles, Cleavitt) at Hubbard Brook would like to host two energetic and engaged students interested in plant ecology, disturbance dynamics or plant demography. Opportunities exist to examine the impacts of the June 2013 windstorm which took out a 16 ha epicenter in the middle of Hubbard Brook Valley.  We also have on-going projects on the population of round-leaved orchids and the in-coming pine and oak seedlings. Other research topics that include a significant field component and are related to the ongoing research on tree population and community ecology in the Hubbard Brook Valley are also possible. (Dr. Natalie Cleavitt , Dr. Tim Fahey, and Dr. John Battles)

Multiple element limitation in northern hardwood forests (one student):   Although temperate forests are generally thought of as N-limited, resource optimization theory predicts that ecosystem productivity should be co-limited by multiple nutrients. To better understand this, we are conducting nutrient manipulations in three study sites in New Hampshire: Bartlett Experimental Forest, Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, and Jeffers Brook in the White Mountain National Forest. This is a large project involving multiple graduate students and many research scientists in addition to the two formal mentors. REU students will be involved in a wide variety of measurements at these sites, including nitrogen cycling, root dynamics, soil respiration, and physiological responses to nutrient additions. Defining the variation in response to gradients in nutrient availability will help explain why trees grow where they do, improving forest management practices. REU students will select a focus area within this larger context to complete a project during the summer and also contribute to the larger long-term effort. (Dr. Ruth Yanai and Dr. Michele Pruyn)

Application Information

For 2014, we will be accepting 8 students for the above projects. Please visit our application page for more information.

Contact Us

Contact Us

January 9th, 2013 by Michael

Center for the Environment

Plymouth State University
Russell House
MSC #63, 17 High Street
Plymouth, NH 03264

phone (603) 535-3179
fax (603) 535-3004