New England is over 80% forested, yet extremes in streamflow, frequent flooding, during spring snow melt and low flows in late summer, can cause severe human hardship and economic difficulty. Speculating that forest management or manipulation perhaps could alleviate some of these problems, there was a desire to understand the relationships between forest cover and the response of streamflow to precipitation in New England. Thus, efforts were made by the U.S. Forest Service to locate a nest of relatively uniform forested watersheds where the linkages between precipitation, vegetation, soils, geology and streamflow could be studied.
Currently, cooperative agreements exist between the USDA Forest Service, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Syracuse University, Yale University, the Institute of Ecosystem Studies (IES) and the U.S. Geological Survey. In addition to these six principal organizations, numerous other academic institutions and government and private organizations have participated in research at Hubbard Brook, including: Brown University, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, University of Wyoming, University of Michigan, Wellesley College, The University of Buffalo, The University of Kentucky, and the USDA National Resource Conservation Service.
The various studies at Hubbard Brook are integrated through: (1) initial planning of each study; (2) on-site interaction, particularly during the field season; (3) frequent small planning or research discussions at Cornell, Dartmouth, Hubbard Brook, IES, Syracuse, Yale and elsewhere; (4) weekly telephone communication and frequent meetings between the principal investigators; (5) an annual meeting of cooperators for two days in early July at which reports of current and proposed research are presented and discussed; (6) circulation of draft manuscripts among the various cooperating scientists; and (7) the development of synthesis papers and volumes.
A Research Approval Committee (RAC) coordinates activities of the various research projects at Hubbard Brook, evaluates suitability of research proposals from outside scientists and generally sets policy relative to research programs and utilization of site and facilities (see Site Administration).