Story posted January 23, 2013
Students in Perspectives in Environmental Science study forest plots and collect data on tree growth at Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center. These data are used to examine the rate of carbon sequestration occurring on the property using growth as a proxy. Scientists have wondered whether rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations will lead to rising uptake of CO2 by plants, since CO2 is required for, and perhaps limits the rate of, photosynthesis. This “fertilization affect” hypothesis predicts that as the concentration of CO2 rises, plant growth (and thus carbon sequestration) will also increase. After the outdoor lab, students analyze the data and add it to a long-term dataset started by Professor Lichter. The class also learn tree ID on the property and discuss the natural history of Maine forests.