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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: Collaborative Proposal: MRA: The influence of climatic dipoles on plant and animal populations at continental scales
  • Principal investigator: Jalene LaMontagne (
  • Institution: DePaul University
  • Primary contact: Jessica Barton (
  • Team members: Jessica Barton; Jalene LaMontagne
  • Abstract:

    Climate dynamics can result in unusually warm and dry conditions in one part of North America and the opposite, unusually cold and wet conditions, in another part of North America. These conditions are called climatic dipoles, which are predictable fluctuations that appear across years and decades. Ecological studies usually collect data at smaller, local or regional scales, and not at larger, continental scales. Because most ecological studies to date do not occur at a continental scale, there is not much known about how climatic dipoles affect plant and animal populations on a broad scale. Climatic dipoles are potentially important because they can inform us about environmental phenomena such as forest productivity, animal migrations, and population dynamics. The objective of our study is to use decades of seed production records in trees, new field data on tree reproduction collected at National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) sites, and animal population numbers and bird movements collected by NEON to examine how these are affected by continent-wide climatic dipoles. The specific part of the project we will be working on will quantify seed production, or mast seeding, in deciduous and coniferous tree species at NEON’s Harvard Forest site and NEON sites nationwide. The data we collect on mast seeding will be linked to climatic dipoles and animal population patterns at regional and continental scales