Fondation species are species that define ecosystem structure, exert strong bottom-up control on distribution and abundance of associated species, and modulate fluxes of nutrients and energy. A canonical example of a foundation species in eastern North American forests is eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadesnsis). Long term observational and experimental studies at the Harvard Forest and Coweeta LTERs have explored how the loss of eastern hemlock due to infestation by the non-native hemlock woolly adelgid (Adegles tsugae) are altering microclimates, population dynamics of vegetation, arthropods, and other animals, carbon cycling, and nutrient dynamics. Where hemlock forests are dissected by streams, loss of eastern hemlock is also dramatically affecting aquatic ecosystems as well.
This working group will focus on four activities.
- Information exchange and updates: researchers from HFR and CWT will summarize findings from ongoing observational and experimental studies of the decline of eastern hemlock;
- Synthesis: researchers from HFR and CWT will discuss ways to synthesize existing data, illuminating commonalities and differences between the two sites, with a goal of writing a cross-site synthesis paper;
- Planning new initiatives: HFR and CWT researchers will identify research areas that can be developed into new cross-site activities, with a particular focus on common frameworks for methods and data collection/analysis;
- Identification of opportunities at other LTER sites for further assessment of the role of foundation species in North American forests: we invite researchers from other forested LTER sites to join this working group to share ideas for studying foundation species at their sites, present results of ongoing research into foundation species, and plan new directions for multi-site research on forest foundation species.