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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: Human Impacts on Plant Nitrogen Isotopes
  • Principal investigator: Noreen Tuross (
  • Institution: Harvard University
  • Primary contact: Noreen Tuross (
  • Team members: David Diaz
  • Abstract:

    The is a continuation of work done years ago with David Diaz, now a PhD candidate at the University of Washington. We documented trends in the nitrogen isotopic composition of plants (e.g club moss and ferns) as a function of past land use intensity. A further study at a farmstead in New Hampshire also showed large variations in the nitrogen isotopic composition of ferns with the highest values at or near the historic cellar hole.

    We propose to return to the Harvard Forest to sample ferns surrounding the Pierce Farm cellar (500' on a side).
    One-two blades/fern plant would be sampled at regular intervals (up to 250 samples), and approximately 10 complete ferns will be taken for compound specific amino acid nitrogen isotope composition. The later approach will allow us to determine whether differences in source nitrogen are reflected at the compound specific level of rubisco amino acids.