Summer on a Shoestring

After long days…
July 31, 2012, 12:56 am
Filed under: Cooking in the white house


After long days of fieldwork, dinner is a much-anticipated event at White House every night.

Every Shoestring crewmember pays $6 a day for food and someone is assigned cooking duty each night. This is no small task; cooks usually spend about two hours in the tiny White House kitchen to make dinner for our seventeen-person crew. At the beginning of the summer, when the Shoestring crew numbered a mere four people, we could eat at the kitchen table comfortably, but now that we are in the midst of the busiest part of the field season, the crew has swelled to almost twenty people and we eat in the living/dining room, where seats at the table are first-come-first-serve and many stand or eat sitting on the couch. However, dinner is always full of laughs and talk about things that happened in the field and lab that day. Dinner is also Yukon’s (Craig’s dog) favorite part of the day and a dinner at the White House wouldn’t be complete without him under the table, begging for scraps.

With so many Shoestring crew members from different parts of the country and from around the world, there is never a shortage of exciting new food cuisines. So far this summer, we have had Korean, Hawaiian, Indian, Chinese, Tex-mex, and Southern dishes. Everyone agrees that some of this summer’s dinner highlights have been Craig’s curry, Kikang’s Korean dishes, the Kalua cake, Adam’s kabobs, and Hannah’s enchiladas.



The 49th Annual Hubbard Brook Cooperators Meetings
July 24, 2012, 8:00 pm
Filed under: Hubbard Brook Meetings

After the 49 years of successive sharing of scientific news I finally attended the annual Hubbard Brook Cooperators Meeting.  Of course, I missed the first few because I wasn’t born yet.  Since then however, I have had little excuse and realize that in missing the goings on described in the many talks I have missed out on the development of one of the most significant data sets available today!

To be honest I hadn’t heard of the Cooperators Meeting until sometime in the past few years, although I had know about Hubbard Brook and some of the ground-breaking work conducted during the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Experiment.

Because the Cooperators meeting is a place-based meeting there is a broad diversity in the areas of research presented.  For me this was a great opportunity to learn about work in some areas very different than my background.  It was also evident the benefit of this cross-disciplinary meeting had for the many scientists present.  To be able to ask questions in such a well described system and have the people there who can look at work from so many different angles can only lead to better results.

The Shoestringers kicked off the talks describing recent data, mostly from the Bartlett MELNHE sites.  Each did a great job and I learned a great deal more than what I had had an opportunity to glean from papers and conversations.  Great job Shoestringers!

Beyond the Shoestring presentations I began to learn about hydrology for the first time in my life.  Admittedly some of this went over my head (not just the evapotranspirationJ) but I now have a better appreciation for how hydrology fits into the biological systems I am used to thinking about. There was great session on species effects in ecosystems including indirect interactions between birds and moose, landscape level effects mediated by beavers, inverted biomass pyramids in a tree, caterpillar bird food chain and a look at the litter fauna at Hubbard Brook.

All in all it was a great time full of good conversations and a lot of learning.  I am looking forward to next year and hopefully I will be able to present too!


Science Night by Mark
July 24, 2012, 4:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized



(Fig.1 ) Field Introduction by Mark Green


After coming back from the 49th Hubbard Brook Meeting, the Shoestring group had science night again! This time Mark Green from Plymouth State University brought his understandings of hydrology to Bartlett. All the Shoestring members gathered in the conference room at the Bartlett Experimental Forest to enjoy the magic of hydrology in the forest. Maybe you will feel strange, how could two groups researching in different areas have a discussion? Actually, that’s the real science! The forest is a large ecosystem that provides various research fields which needs scientists in different areas to study together!

During the discussion Mark introduced the general hydrology research history in the forest and the main methods in doing research. A new world was showed in front of us and almost everyone brought up related interesting topics based on their own research knowledge. We also discussed several new idea of doing research combining the knowledge of hydrology and biochemistry. Science night is a chance for the Shoestring group to learn new things and communicate with each other. Before that night, hydrology was just a word of mouth towards the Shoestring group. This night gave us a new angle to do research and allow us to be better in the future!

We are looking forward to next science night! Dear friends, guess who will be the next guest?

~ Mark (Yang Yang) 





Beech Bark Disease by Tony
July 22, 2012, 4:45 am
Filed under: Forest Health | Tags:


(Fig. 1)  Diseased Beech Tree

American Beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) is one of the three dominant tree species in Northern hardwood forest. Beech bark disease is a disease complex which has been found in North America around 1890. Now the disease has been spread around the Northeastern part of this country (Fig 2.).Obviously, our experimental sites in New Hampshire are the victims of this disaster. The initial inventory data which we collected in 2005 and 2011 has indicated that the mean disease severity is much higher in old stands. And the latest inventory data from 2011 showed that the disease is much more serious than before. However, there are still no effective ways to control this disease complex. Many trials carried out by various researchers have resulted into failures.

So, the first step of our whole research plan on beech bark disease is to figure out how the disease progress in specific trees. Because the methodology we used in the past was just very qualitative and could just provide a general understandings about how the disease develop from a stand or plot viewpoint. We do not yet know how the disease like scales or fungus occupy and get the whole tree infected and dead. And subjection caused by different investigators using a vague scale would also affect the final result. Thus, a new rating system or technique is really needed.

Fortunately we have Jon Cale, a PhD student from ESF who is an expert on BBD, joined our crew this summer. He introduced the image analysis method to us which I think could better describe and quantify how the scales and fungus develop without subjection. We will take pictures in each selected tree from four cardinal directions at three height levels (0m, 1m, 2m). Then analyzing these pictures by a program called ImageJ.

Another thing we could expect is to see how the fertilization influences the disease. We have divided each site into 4-5 plots with different fertilization treatments (N, N+P, P, Ca) which began in spring 2011. It is reported by some researchers that the reason young beech trees are less infected than old trees is because of the low nitrogen content in young beech trees. So our inventory is also intended to discover whether these nutrient additives would ease or facilitate the disease.

Surely this kind of inventory would be very interesting and you would definitely get the feeling of saving the earth planet by doing this! Welcome to join us!



Fig 1. Distribution of BBD around North America (Provided by USDAForest Service, 2005)

Leaf Litter
July 2, 2012, 2:02 am
Filed under: Foliage, Litter Sorting


Photo of dried leaf litter being weighed.

Leaves, the driving force of transpiration in trees, fall off each year so that trees can live through winter.   There is a larger leaf loss in the fall but some leaves are still lost in summer.  The shoestring crew placed leaf litter baskets in designated areas to collect the fallen leaves in the seasons of fall as well as summer.  Baskets are placed in four sub plots within a stand: the control plot, a plot treated with phosphorus, a plot treated with nitrogen, and a plot that contains both phosphorus and nitrogen. The leaves are collected once in the spring, summer and fall then dried in an oven at 60 degrees celsius for roughly 24 hours.  After weighing, non leaf matter is removed and the weight of the leaf litter is recorded.  The dried weight can be compared to data from previous years to see if the mass of the leaf harvest has changed.  The differentiation between plots will perhaps show the affect that the nitrogen, phosphorus or nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization has on trees.

~Kelsey Pangman