Aquatic ecologist Natalie Griffiths conducts studies on nutrients and contaminants in the Walker Branch Watershed, which flows through the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
A team led by Elizabeth Herndon and Fernanda Santos is measuring changes in carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere from the breakdown of leaf litter on the forest floor as manganese levels and temperatures increase. Credit: Fernanda Santos/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy
Anyone familiar with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory knows it’s a hub for world-class science. The nearly 33,000-acre space surrounding the lab is less known, but also unique. The Oak Ridge Reservation, or ORR, is a key hotspot for biodiversity in the Southeast and is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals.
At the intersection of eastern Tennessee’s Anderson and Roane counties is an important subset of the reservation – the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park, or NERP – a 20,000-acre ORNL research facility that has been internationally recognized by UNESCO as an official biosphere reserve unit.
“The National Environmental Research Park is a living laboratory and a major resource for conducting ecological studies,” said Evin Carter, an ORNL wildlife ecologist and director of the Southern Appalachian Man and the Biosphere Program, or SAMAB. The NERP has been a core part of SAMAB, which focuses on sustainable economic development...
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