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Harvard Forest Research Project 2022

  • Title: The recovery of ecosystem complexity in NE forests
  • Principal investigator: David Moreno Mateos (
  • Institution: Harvard University
  • Primary contact: David Moreno Mateos (
  • Team members:
  • Abstract:

    Ecosystem restoration is a global need to recover the loss of biodiversity caused by human development. Multiple international institutions (including the UN), and governments (including US and the EU) are developing large scale strategies to restore ecosystems. However, global evaluations on restoration outcome show that performance is still limited. In this project, we will focus on a unique system to understand the natural recovery of ecosystems, the forests of New England. We will study the mechanisms regulating forest recovery in a 200-year chronosequence of agricultural fields abandoned after the European settlement, and will compare changes in how trees and fungi interact in these former fields with remaining old-growth forests. This interaction is essential to maintain forest growth and resilience to ongoing changes, like climate change and biodiversity loss, and will allow us to find associations with exceptional roles promoting the recovery process. Focusing on the recovery of interactions will also allow us to develop new theory regarding the most possible re-assembly paths that a forest can take after degradation caused by agriculture. We will validate this theory with our study system with the objective of providing tools for restoration practitioners and landscape architects to improve restoration performance and forest biodiversity.