Research Theme Two

Sustaining Ecosystem Health in the Northern Forest

The NSRC seeks research pre-proposals that will improve understanding and management of forests and associated aquatic ecosystems in the Northern Forest. Land use change, climate change, and regional atmospheric pollutants are among the many threats facing the ecosystem health of the Northern Forest. Pollutants produced throughout central North America are part of the atmospheric deposition received by the Northern Forest, with significant impacts on forest health. Climate change poses uncertain, but potentially large impacts on the ecology and hydrology of the Northern Forest. Land use changes, such as intensive harvesting for biomass energy or conversion of private forest lands to homeowner building lots, have a very high potential for degrading water quality, ecosystem health, and the value of the forest for multiple stakeholders. Sustaining forest integrity into the future and supporting sustainable development in the region both rely on sound, quantitative estimates of the multiple factors that influence ecosystem health of the Northern Forest.

Theme Two solicits pre-proposals that address hydrological, biogeochemical, and carbon cycling processes in forested ecosystems.

Pre-proposal submissions to Theme Two may include, but are not limited to, one or more of the following research topics that:

  • Address threats to forest health, forest productivity, and soil and water resources from regionally important pollutants such as acids, nitrogen, mercury, and ozone; more intensive utilization of forest lands for energy production; conversion of forests to other land uses; climate change; or other regional phenomena.
  • Develop quantitative methods for estimating and predicting changes in carbon storage over time in ways relevant to the use of Northern Forest lands for energy production, emerging carbon credit markets, and carbon management policies.

Pre-proposals may take one or more of several approaches to addressing these needs, including synthesis of existing data, collection of new data, or increasing the level of communication among researchers, resource managers, policy-makers, regional businesses and residents, and other stakeholder groups. Priority will be given to projects that produce clearly defined outcomes, have a direct relationship to the health, productivity, and management of forest and aquatic ecosystems in the Northern Forest, and reflect the needs and interests of stakeholder groups in the region. Proposed outcomes should advance our understanding of ecological processes and relationships affecting the structure and function of forest and aquatic ecosystems and demonstrate the value of this new understanding in addressing the issues of ecosystem health or carbon and energy management in the Northern Forest Region.

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