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The Ecosystems Center conducts research in projects from Alaska, Sweden and Russia in the Arctic to the Antarctic, from the streams and pastures of Brazil to the estuaries of New England... More>>>


The Ecosystems Center is actively involved in education in a variety of ways....More>>>

Semester in Environmental Science
The Semester in Environmental Science (SES) is a 15-week fall semester at the Ecosystems Center.... More>>>

Brown/MBL Graduate Program
Four students are working with Ecosystems Center scientists in the MBL’s graduate program with Brown University... More>>>


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Muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus) on the North Slope of Alaska. (Photo: Alex Huryn)

Land of Extremes Is Colorful Guide to Natural History of the Arctic Tundra

John Hobbie and Alex Huryn, long-time principal investigators on the Arctic Long Term Ecological Research project at Toolik Lake, Alaska, have just finished a book about the natural history of the North Slope of Alaska, the only Arctic tundra in the U. S. The book, Land of Extremes, A Natural History of the Arctic North Slope of Alaska, will be published this September by the University of Alaska Press.

The idea for the book came up in the dining hall at Toolik. Says Hobbie, "I was sitting at the dinner table with Alex, and was struck by the diversity of the expertise there. Scientists who were world experts on birds, mammals, microbes, plants, geology and so on. What an opportunity to bring together all that knowledge about one small region of the Earth - and a very interesting region it is too."

The first section is devoted to climate, geology, landforms, and ecology; the second provides a guide to the identification and natural history of the common animals and plants and a primer on the human prehistory of the region from the Pleistocene through the mid-twentieth century. The appendix provides the framework for a tour of the natural history features along the Dalton Highway, the road that runs from the Brooks Range to Prudhoe Bay and the Arctic Ocean.

John Hobbie, currently senior scholar the Ecosystems Center, was instrumental in setting up Toolik as a research station in the mid 1970s. He has been going to the North Slope, in fact, since he began conducting his doctoral research in the late 1950s. Like Hobbie, Alex Huryn, professor at the University of Alabama, has carried out research in the Arctic year-round. "Alex is an excellent naturalist, and provided hundreds of color illustrations for the book," said Hobbie.

More Ecosystems Center News

Spring 2012 Seminars »


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JC Weber explains his laboratory's research in the deep Sargasso Sea to students from the New York Harbor School. (Photo: Debbie Scanlon)

Tour Gives Students a Glimpse of Center Research

Students from the New York Harbor School visited Woods Hole and the Ecosystems Center last month. JC Weber explained the work that he and Maureen Conte conduct in the Oceanic Flux program. He told students about one aspect, using organic chemical biomarkers extracted from deep sea particulate matter to learn about processes in the mesopelgaic zone of the deep Sargasso Sea. Matthew Erickson gave an overview of the Palmer Station Long Term Ecological Research project in Antarctica. Research there is focused on the Antarctic pelagic foodweb.

The Harbor School is a small college preparatory school on Governor's Island in New York City. All students must choose a career and technical education program of study from one of these maritime related areas: marine technology, marine science, marine policy or SCUBA diving.


Ducklow, H. W., O. Schofiled, M. Vernet, S. Stammerjohn, and M. Erickson. 2012. Multiscale control of bacterial production by phytoplankton dynamics and sea ice along the western Antarctic Peninsula:  A regional and decadal investigation. Journal of Marine Systems 98-99: 26-39.

Barrett, K., A. V. Rocha, M. J. van de Weg, and G. Shaver. 2012. Vegetation shifts observed in arctic tundra 17 years after fire. Remote Sensing Letters 3(8):729-736.

Fountain, A. G., J. L. Campbell, E. A. G. Schuur, E. S. Sharon, M. W. Williams, and H. W. Ducklow. 2012. The disappearing cryosphere: Impacts and ecosystem responses to rapid cryosphere loss. BioScience 62: 405-415.

Robertson, G. P., S. L. Collins, D. R. Foster, N. Brokaw, H. W. Ducklow, T. L. Gragson, C. Gries, S. K. Hamilton, A. D. McGuire, J. C. Moore, E. H. Stanley, R. B. Waide, and M. W. Williams. 2012. Long-term ecological research in a human-dominated world. BioScience 62(4): 342-353.

Neumann, R.B. and Z. G. Cardon. 2012. Tansley Review - The magnitude of hydraulic redistribution by plant roots: a review and synthesis of empirical and modeling studies. New Phytologist 194:337-352

Dunaj, S. J., J. J. Vallino, M. E. Hines, M. Gay, C. Kobyljanec, and J. N. Rooney-Varga. 2012. Relationships between soil organic matter, nutrients, bacterial community structure, and the performance of microbial fuel cells. Environmental Science & Technology 46(3):1914-1922, doi: 10.1021/es2032532.

Fox, L., I. Valiela and E. L. Kinney. 2012. Vegetation cover and elevation in long-term experimental nutrient-enrichment plots in Great Sippewissett Salt Marsh, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: Implications for eutrophication and sea level rise. Estuaries and Coasts. doi:10.1007/s12237-012-9479-x

Potts, D. L., K. N. Suding, G. C. Winston, A. V. Rocha, and M. L. Goulden. 2012. Ecological effects of experimental drought and prescribed fire in a southern California coastal grassland. Journal of Arid Environments. doi:10.1016/j.jariden.2012.01.007

Hobbie, J. E., and E. A. Hobbie. 2012. Amino acid cycling in plankton and soil microbes studied with radioisotopes: measured amino acids in soil do not reflect bioavailability. Biogeochemistry 107:339–360. Doi: 10.1007/s10533-010-9556-9

Butler, S. M., J. M. Melillo, J. E. Johnson, J. E. Mohan, P. A. Stuedler, H. Lux, E. Burrows, R. M. Smith, C. L. Vario, L. Scott, T. D. Hill, N. Aponte, and F. P. Bowles. 2011. Soil warming alters nitrogen cycling in a New England forest: implications for ecosystem function and structure. Oecologia : DOI 10.1007/s00442-011-2133-7

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