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UMaine Today Magazine

Last Impression


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In a world where research projects typically last three to five years, the University of Maine's Bear Brook Watershed in Maine (BBWM) study is in a class of its own, having contributed nearly 20 years of comprehensive and continuous data to our understanding of how forest ecosystems react to ever-changing environmental conditions.

At Bear Brook, the whole-ecosystem approach to studying the effects of a changing physical and chemical climate began in the late 1980s, when bimonthly treatments of ammonium sulfate began being dropped by helicopter on one of the two watersheds being examined. Ever since, the effects of these treatments have been measured against an untreated reference watershed, providing UMaine researchers and their collaborators over time with invaluable data on soil cation depletion, nitrogen saturation, soil and stream acidification, and forest chemistry.

From acid rain impact studies to ongoing research on the effects of climate change in the new century, the Bear Brook project has resulted in more than 100 scientific publications, and provided insights into ecosystem response and adaptation that simply cannot be accurately measured in short-term research projects. By providing researchers, managers and legislators with reliable, long-term information on areas ranging from surface water chemistry to root dynamics and vegetative chemistry, BBWM continues to set the standard by which forest ecosystem and watershed research is judged, and effective policy and management practices are developed.

UMaine Today Magazine
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