The University of Michigan Biological Station Forest Carbon Cycle Research Program

The University of Michigan Biological Station Forest Carbon Cycle Research Program is headquartered at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS) in northern lower Michigan, USA.

Research objectives

looking up at meteorological tower

The broad objectives of the UMBS Forest Carbon Cycle Research Program are to address questions of ecosystem/atmosphere linkages that are general in nature and will contribute to large-scale carbon cycle modeling efforts, and to test hypotheses specific to the upper Great Lakes forest ecosystems that will further our understanding of productivity controls over these regionally important communities. Our current research centers on the Forest Accelerated Succession ExperimenT (FASET), a large-scale manipulation that examines carbon cycling processes following the transition from aspen dominated ecosystems to those of later-successional species with biologically and structurally more complex canopies.

Research approach

The main thrust of observations are conducted on and around two meteorological towers. One tower has been operating since 1999, and a second tower has been operating since 2007 in a 33 ha treatment plot in which ecological succession was experimentally accelerated in Spring 2008 by stem girdling all aspen and birch (>6,700 trees, ~35% canopy leaf area index [LAI]). Eddy correlation techniques, employing three dimensional sonic anemometers and fast response gas analyzers, are used to monitor the fluxes of CO2, sensible heat, latent heat (H2O) and momentum. Our two main sampling levels above the forest canopy are supplemented by profiles of carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity over the entire depth of the tower and by micrometeorological stations that are distributed below canopy within the flux footprint of the tower. Extensive ecological studies also are conducted near the UMBS AmeriFlux towers, encompassing both plant and soil mediated processes. These include stand-level carbon budgets, gas exchange, water use, and isotopic discrimination.