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Effects of Global Climate Change on Stream Ecosystems

Lead Scientist(s): Dr. Emma J. Rosi

Riparian forests are changing due to both natural and anthropogenic changes (e.g. climate change, pest invasions, acid deposition, restoration and timber management practices). A major result of all these activities is an increase in forest canopy gaps, which can fundamentally alter light dynamics and carbon availability in streams draining these forests.

Alteration of riparian forest structural characteristics may significantly alter the productivity and ability of streams to retain nutrients. In collaboration with Dr's Dana Warren, Oregon State University, Bill Keeton, University of Vermont, Jon Cole and post doctoral researcher Heather Bechtold, Cary Institute (funding from NSRC) we are using nutrient uptake and metabolism techniques to examine the response of streams to long-term changes in riparian forest structure (age, stage, and composition).

Our current research focuses on northeastern US streams draining a range of complexity of riparian forests in the Adirondacks (NY) and at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire. Our findings will have implications for managing both riparian forest and aquatic ecosystems together in response to changing environmental conditions.