Bonanza Creek LTER - Project Overview

The Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research program is located in the boreal forest of interior Alaska, USA. Our facilities are centered in the city of Fairbanks. Research at our LTER site focuses on improving our understanding of the long-term consequences of changing climate and disturbance regimes in the Alaskan boreal forest. Our overall objective is to document the major controls over forest dynamics, biogeochemistry, and disturbance and their interactions in the face of a changing climate. The site was established in Fairbanks, Alaska in 1987 as part of the National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program.

The Bonanza Creek Long-Term Ecological Research program focuses on improving our understanding of the long-term consequences of changing climate and disturbance regimes in the Alaskan boreal forest. Our overall objective is to document the major controls over forest dynamics, biogeochemistry, and disturbance and their interactions in the face of a changing climate.

The forest dynamics theme addresses successional changes in population and community processes following disturbance, emphasizing the relative importance of historical legacies, stochastic processes, and species effects in determining successional trajectories and the sensitivity of these trajectories to climate. Changes in the carbon cycle during succession hinge on changes in forest dynamics and other element cycles, but also influence nutrient availability and microenvironment and therefore successional changes in forest dynamics. Regional and landscape controls over disturbance regime focuses on regional and landscape processes that are responsible for the timing, extent, and severity of disturbance.

Our research design uses experiments and observations in intensive sites in three successional sequences (floodplains, south-aspect uplands, north-aspect uplands) to document the processes that drive successional change. We establish the regional context for these intensive studies by analysis of ecosystem processes in two large regions, one in a relatively uniform region in interior Alaska and a second along a climate gradient from the warmest to the coldest areas in Alaska.

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