Environmental Studies 89: Forest Biogeochemistry

T & Th 2:00-3:50pm
X-hour: Wed. 4:15-5:20pm
114 Fairchild

Instructor:Andy Friedland
211 Steele Hall: 646-3609
Office Hours: T 10-11; W, F 2-3
and by appointment


Articles from the scientific literature

Required Reading articles are on reserve in Kresge Library.

Terrestrial Ecosystems. J.D. Aber and J.M. Melillo. 1991. Saunders College Publishing. 429 pgs.


This course will examine elemental cycling and related biogeochemical processes in terrestrial ecosystems, with a primary focus on forests of the temperate zone. We will cover many aspects of major and trace element cycles. The impact of air pollution on elemental cycling processes will be an area of interest throughout the term.

The required text will serve as a useful reference. There are no assigned pages--you are expected to find the appropriate sections for each topic and read them. I will be glad to provide guidance to anyone who wants help determining the reading for a given week. This class will be taught somewhat like a "graduate seminar." More class time will be spent discussing articles from the peer-reviewed literature (with presentations by members of the class) than in lecture.


Three problem sets (20 points each)

60 points

In-class presentations

20 points

Class participation

25 points

Final presentation

25 points

Final paper (15-20 pages)

120 points


250 points

Note: I am interested in creating a Forest Biogeochemistry informational web page as part of the Environmental Studies Program web site. Members of this class who want to work on this project with me can do so: If we have enough interest in the class, I would consider ~5 page papers with figures and web-appropriate features placed on the web in lieu of the 15-20 page final paper. We will talk more about this on the first day of class.

I encourage students with disabilities, including "invisible" disabilities like chronic diseases and learning disabilities, to discuss with me after class or during my office hours appropriate accommodations that might be helpful to them.


Date Topic

3/25 Introduction
3/27 The Earth as a Biogeochemical System / Ecosystem Biogeochemistry

4/1 Atmospheric Deposition
4/3 Canopy Processes including Throughfall and Stemflow
4/7 Monday at 4 PM: Mandatory. Lecture by Dr. Gene Likens, Institute of Ecosystem Studies: "The Biogeochemistry of Calcium at Hubbard Brook" at 4:00 PM in 101 Fairchild
4/8 Soil Processes: Cation Exchange, Element Accumulation and Loss
4/10 Biotic Contributions to Elemental Cycles Problem Set #1 Due
4/15 Geologic Contributions to Elemental Cycles

Forest Ecosystem Integration
4/17 Mass Balance and Elemental Cycling
4/22 Atmospheric Trace Gas Exchange- Prof. Eric Miller
4/24 Air Pollution in a Rural-Urban Gradient- Prof. Tom Hutchinson
4/29 Nitrogen Cycling in Forest Ecosystems: Too Much and Too Little PS #2 Due
5/1 Metal Cycling in Forest Ecosytems: Recent Rapid Reductions
5/6 Air Pollution and Forests: North America
5/8 Air Pollution and Forests: Europe and Scandanavia
5/13 Global Change---->Local Influences on Forest Biogeochemistry
5/15 Global Change---->Local Contributions to Global Patterns PS #3 Due
5/20 Presentations
5/21 x-hour Presentations
5/22 Presentations
5/27 Presentations and Summary
6/2 Final Paper Due 10 am

Books on reserve in Kresge Library:

Abrahamsen, Gunnar, Stuanes, Arne & Tveite, Bjorn. Long-Term Experiments with Acid Rain in Norwegian Forest Ecosystems. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1993, 342.

Baron, Jill. Biogeochemistry of a Subalpine Ecosystem. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1991, 247 pgs.

Eager, Christopher & Adams, Mary Beth. Ecology and Decline of Red Spruce in the Eastern United States. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1992, 417 pgs.

Johnson, Dale & Lindberg, Steven. Atmospheric Deposition and Forest Nutrient Cycling. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1992, 707 pgs.

Landmann, G. & Bonneau, M. Forest Decline and Atmospheric Deposition Effects in the French Mountains. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1995, 461 pgs.

Likens, Gene & Bormann, Herbert. Biogeochemistry of a Forested Ecosystem. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1995, 159 pgs.

Rundel, P.W., Ehleringer, J.R., & Nagy K.A. Stable Isotopes in Ecological Research. Springer-Verlag, New York, 1988, 525 pgs.

Schlesinger, William. Biogeochemistry: An Analysis of Global Change. Academic Press, New York, 1991, 443 pgs.

Waring, Richard & Schlesinger, William. Forest Ecosystems: Concepts and Management. Academic Press, Inc., New York. 1985, 340 pgs.