Additional Participants

Senior Personnel

Stephen Norton

Bernard Cosby

Lindsey Rustad

Aria Amirbahman

Graduate Student

Michael SanClements

Brett Holmes

Suzanne Bethers

Farrah Fatemi

David Huntress

Andrea Burke

Jay Raymond

Undergraduate Student

Benjamin Lynch

Sean Rackley

Daniel Allalemdjian

Jennifer Sinsabaugh

Mary Beth Parent

Allison Montgomery

Robert Harrington

Shaughn Allen

Danielle Dutton

Susan Devine

Abel Plaud

Technician, Programmer

Johanna Szillery

Cheryl Spencer

Jessica Sherman

John Cangelosi

Organizational Partners

US Geological Survey

International Paper

GMO Renewable Resources

USDA Forest Service - Northeastern Forest Experiment Station

Maine Agric and Forest Exp Station

University of Strasbourg

Czech Academy of Sciences

Project Period

August 2008-July 2009

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



The Bear Brook Watershed in Maine (BBWM) is a long-term (14+ years), whole-watershed experiment designed to study ecosystem responses to acid deposition. One watershed has been treated bimonthly by helicopter with nitrogen and sulfur since 1989. Results have documented progressive acidification of soils and streams, substantial losses of soil nutrients (e.g., calcium), increased nitrogen cycling, and changes in tree foliar chemistry. Little research has been done on phosphorus, a critical nutrient in ecosystems. This project will evaluate the effects of long-term watershed acidification on metal mobilization (focusing on aluminum and iron) and linked effects on phosphorus at BBWM by studying soils, soil solutions, stream water, and biota (e.g., foliage, roots, and soil microorganisms).

Policy makers have focused on emissions regulations to control nitrogen and sulfur due to known ecological effects on forests and streams such as acidification, nitrogen saturation, and base cation depletion. Little is known about how these ecological changes will, in turn, affect phosphorus cycling. Understanding changes in this key nutrient may be pivotal to understanding underlying mechanisms of forest decline and surface water quality, and will therefore be fundamental to policy and management planning.

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