Millbrook, N.Y. — Dr. Gene E. Likens, Founding President of Millbrook's Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, recently celebrated 50 years of research at the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study (HBES) in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. World-renowned for the discovery of acid rain in North America, the research site was co-founded by Likens in 1963, and has been critical to investigations of how human-accelerated environmental change impacts forests and their watersheds.
Continuous, long-term studies are rare in ecology, but they are essential to effective stewardship. The Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study has been instrumental in advancing our understanding of ecological, hydrological, and biogeochemical interactions in forested watersheds. Findings have informed forest management practices and environmental policy. And the watershed-ecosystem approach that is a hallmark of Hubbard Brook has been replicated at sites throughout the world.
Noteworthy findings from the study have included the discovery of acid rain in North America and its impact on ecosystems, validation of the watershed-ecosystem approach as a tool in tackling landscape-scale problems, and confirmation that clear-cutting and other major forest disturbances disrupt the nitrogen cycle of terrestrial ecosystems. Work at the site has also shed light on how food limitation, climate, and forest structure influence populations of neotropical migrant birds.
The Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study has been the basis of more than 1,480 scientific publications, 11 books, and 8 monographs. Hundreds of graduate, undergraduate, postdoctoral associates and technicians have been mentored and trained at Hubbard Brook, resulting in 101 Ph.D. and 68 Master's theses. More than 40 investigators from some 20 institutions currently conduct research at the forest.
Now, as society grapples with a multitude of human-caused environmental problems, the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study’s approach to understanding ecosystem response to disturbance is more valuable than ever.
Since the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study’s initiation in 1963, many senior scientists and technicians at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies have been part of its research program, among them (alphabetical order): Dr. Heather Bechtold, Mr. Donald Buso (Field Manager for Dr. Likens), Dr. Nina Caraco, Dr. Jon Cole, Dr. Stuart E.G. Findlay, Mr. John Eaton, Dr. Peter Groffman, Ms. Phyllis Likens, Dr. Gary Lovett, Ms. Lisa Martel, Ms. Brenda Minicucci, Dr. David Strayer, Dr. Kathleen Weathers, and Ms. Tammy Wooster.
Gene E. Likens, Co-founder of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study, is Founding Director, President Emeritus, and Distinguished Senior Scientist Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.