The research station offers easy access to a wide range of characteristic pineland ecosystems, including pygmy pine forests, upland and lowland pine/oak communities, cedar swamps and aquatic and semi-aquatic habitats.

The unique combination of fire, hydrology and sandy, acid soils creates a rich mosaic of plant and animal communities available for research. Current research topics at the station include biogeochemical cycling in soil and freshwater systems; the role of mycorrhizal and saprotrophic fungi in ecosystem functioning; studies of soil fauna; and an emphasis on human impacts on ecosystems.

A weather station is located on the property and climatological records from 1989 are available upon request.

Research Aims

The research aims of the group are to be multidisciplinary and relate to basic scientific hypotheses and to applied research problems within the area by:

  • Encouraging individual and joint research ventures between personnel within Rutgers University.
  • Encouraging individual and joint research ventures between Rutgers University and other organizations.
  • Encouraging greater use of the field laboratory and office in the pursuance of field ecological research.

Current Research Projects

USDA McIntire Stennis: Coarse woody residue decomposition affected by southern pine beetle: fungal interactions influencing fire hazard in the NJ pine barrens.
With Ning Zhang (Plant Biology & Pathology, SEBS) and Matt Ayres (Dartmouth). Investigating the effects of wood invasion by southern pine bark beetle and the fungi introduced by them on the rate of decomposition of infested wood and changes in fungal succession on beetle damaged and non-beetle wood.

USDA McIntire Stennis: The role of Acidobacteria Communities in Carbon and Nitrogen Cycling Processes in New Jersey Pineland Soils.
With Max Haggblom (Biochemistry and Microbiology, SEBS) and Le Kerkoff (IMCS, SEBS). Understanding the edaphic factors affecting abundance of Acidobacter and it role in C cycling in pine barrens forests.

USDA McIntire Stennis: Impacts of Forest Thinning and Soil Disturbance on Sustainability in the NJ Pine Barrens.
This project, conducted at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation Parker Preserve,  involves a thinning and forest floor manipulation experiment following the ecological changes associated with replacement of ericaceous understory with a graminoid understory in the thinned forest. It is thought that this may have been the structure of these forests in pre-colonial times. The experimental manipulations  is investigating nutrient and carbon dynamics, tree performance and the success of generating a mixed species graminoid community from seed bank or by seeding with and without mycorrhizal inoculation.

Mesocosm studies of the effects of prescribed burning and forest floor disturbance.
This project takes some of the components of the Parker Preserve project (above) in combination with burning to follow the fate of soil nutrients with forest floor manipulations of burning, soil disturbance and understory vegetation removal. The experiment is set up under replicated individual trees within the field station property.

Influence of gypsy moth defoliation on carbon dynamics and nutrient dynamics in soil.
This project has arisen from three successive years of gypsy moth attack. In combination with the Forest Service, we have looked at the stand net carbon budget using eddy flux data. We are looking at the changes in chemistry of consumed leaves and the new flush of leaves post attack as well as decomposition of and mineralization from decomposing frass.