Hubachek Wilderness Research Center | Ely, MN

Snow January on Mukluk Bay
Small mammal trapping class learning methods

Mid-January 2023

We are well into winter now, with frequent snows and a couple of storms leaving one to two feet of insulating cover on the ground. With enough early-season snowfall preceding spells of frigid temperatures in December, the lakes are a bit slushy and the ground under the snowpack is less frozen than usual. Will we have another meadow vole irruption? If we do, their grassy tunneling will be easy to see in the spring. We hope they don’t nibble the bark from experimental saplings as they did in winter 2019-2020.

Grouse seem more likely to explode from their roosts in the snowpack this winter if you happen to get too close, and it's another good year for snowshoe hares at the HWRC. Fisher and pine marten tracks abound and we see evidence of their (squirrel? mouse?) hunting cruises around the buildings on occasion. The hares also attract lynx and bobcats to the HWRC woods.

The B4WarmED climate research project's heaters were shut off for the winter in November. Automated collection of weather and soil data continues through the winter. This long-term (rare in the research world) project published one of many papers resulting from the team's work, "Even modest climate change may lead to major transitions in boreal forests", in the journal Nature in August.

The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship project at the HWRC will continue next summer.

We look forward to a bump in site use this year. Students and researchers from the Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology Department will visit next month. The College of Earth and Environmental Sciences' Advanced Field Geology and the Forest Resources Department's Park and Protected Area Management Field Studies classes will return this summer. In early fall, we’ll host a geology honors program group for the first time.

Facilities improvements are in progress. Plans for a site-wide electrical system update are under review. The new well is providing a more stable water supply. Plumbing upgrades are on the horizon. University of Minnesota IT professionals have installed the first phase of a significant internet upgrade.

Check out the article, People, Fire, and Pines: How Fire Use by the Anishinaabeg Shaped the Boundary Waters by Clare Boerigter.

Learn more about activities at the Hubachek Wilderness Research Center and its big-sister research station, the Cloquet Forestry Center, in our View From the Woods 2022 newsletter.

News

Even modest warming could cause major changes for forests in the Great Lakes region and southern Canada

August 10, 2022

Even relatively modest climate change could dramatically alter Minnesota’s Northwoods and the southern boreal forest that runs from eastern Canada to Alaska, according to a rare long-term experiment by a team of researchers led by U of M professor Peter Reich.