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Harvard Forest Data Archive


Soil Temperature and Water Content in Macrosystems Biodiversity Project at Harvard Forest 2011-2012

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  • Lead: Brian Enquist, Robert Waide, James Brown
  • Investigators: Vanessa Buzzard
  • Contact: Information Manager
  • Start date: 2011
  • End date: 2012
  • Status: completed
  • Location: Harvard Forest
  • Latitude: +42.53780 to +42.54054
  • Longitude: -72.17899 to -72.17329
  • Elevation: 352 to 363 meter
  • Taxa:
  • Release date: 2015
  • Revisions:
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.260.2
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • EDI: data package
  • DataONE: data package
  • Related links:
  • Study type: short-term measurements
  • Research topic: biodiversity studies; international research projects; regional studies
  • LTER core area: populations, organic matter
  • Keywords: biodiversity, soil moisture, soil temperature, water content
  • Abstract:

    Patterns of biodiversity, such as the increase toward the tropics and the peaked curve during ecological succession, are fundamental phenomena for ecology. Such patterns have multiple, interacting causes, but temperature emerges as a dominant factor across organisms from microbes to trees and mammals, and across terrestrial, marine, and freshwater environments. However, there is little consensus on the underlying mechanisms, even as global temperatures increase and the need to predict their effects becomes more pressing.

    The purpose of this project is to generate and test theory for how temperature impacts biodiversity through its effect on biochemical processes and metabolic rate. A combination of standardized surveys in the field and controlled experiments in the field and laboratory measure diversity of three taxa -- trees, invertebrates, and microbes -- and key biogeochemical processes of decomposition in seven forests distributed along a geographic gradient of increasing temperature from cold temperate to warm tropical.

    Readings of soil temperature and soil moisture were taken with HOBO sensors from November 2011 to November 2012. These sensors were installed at five experimental tree growth plots installed by the Enquist Lab (PI, Brian Enquist) from the University of Arizona as part of a macrosystems biodiversity and latitude project supported by the National Science Foundation under Cooperative Agreement DEB#1065836.

  • Methods:

    One HOBO Micro Station (Part # H21-002) was installed in each of the five Gentry tree plots at all six experimental sites to monitor continuous variation in soil moisture using Soil Moisture Smart Sensor Part # S-SMB-M005 ( and temperature using 12-Bit Temperature Smart Sensor Part # S-TMB-M002 ( The data logger was secured to a tree.

    Both sensors were buried 10-15 cm underground by the following method: A hole was dug and the soil probe was inserted with the 2 in side vertical into the wall of the hole until the black part and cord were the only things visible. The temperature probe was placed alongside it and both were buried. The HOBO was set up to record soil moisture and temperature every hour.

  • Use:

    This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (No Rights Reserved). Please keep the dataset creators informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset should include proper acknowledgement.

  • Citation:

    Enquist B, Waide R, Brown J. 2015. Soil Temperature and Water Content in Macrosystems Biodiversity Project at Harvard Forest 2011-2012. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF260 (v.2).

Detailed Metadata

hf260-01: hf soil temperature and moisture

  1. unique identification number of the logged reading
  2. site: full name of experimental site where the reading was taken
  3. plot: plot code as defined by the three letter site code (HFR = Harvard Forest LTER) plus the letter "T" to define Gentry tree plots 1-5. (e.g. Gentry plot 1 at Harvard Forest LTER is HFRT1)
  4. datetime: date and time of logged reading
  5. date: date of logged reading
  6. time: time of the logged reading
  7. soilt: soil temperature measured in degrees Celsius by a device ordered through OnSet, product number S-TMB-M002. Measurement range: -40 to +100 degrees C. Accuracy: < +/-0.2 degrees C from 0-50C (unit: celsius / missing value: NA)
  8. water.content: volumetric (m3/m3) water content of the soil measured with an instrument ordered through OnSet, product name S_SMB-M005. Range in soil: 0-0.450. Accuracy +/-0.041. Resolution +/- 0.0006 (unit: cubicMetersPerCubicMeters / missing value: NA)
  9. error: codes denoting errors in some of the water content measurements. A and C error values should be discarded before data is used for analysis. B values can be retained and set to 0
    • A: loggers were launched before placed in the ground
    • B: data is within the range of device error of 0.94
    • C: value below threshold