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Northern Research Station
One Gifford Pinchot Drive
Madison, WI 53726
(608) 231-9318
(608) 231-9544 TTY/TDD

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Riparian and Aquatic Ecosystems


The Northern Research Station has realigned our staff from 37 Research Work Units and Programs into 14 new Research Work Units.

RWU-4351 is now part of NRS-7, Northern Forest Science and Applications.

Our Mission

[photo:] Stream running through a sunlight forest.We classify aquatic and riparian systems and improve understanding of the physical, social, and biological factors that influence the health of riparian and aquatic ecosystems. On the basis of this understanding, we develop standards, guidelines, and Best Management Practices (BMP) for riparian zones. These new tools are designed to help planners and managers meet the needs of people who use these areas intensively while sustaining the quality and quantity of our water resources.


Our research focuses on:

  • Restoration Studies - testing restoration methods to understand their influence on nutrient and carbon processing, quality of surface water, and aquatic biota.
  • Mercury Studies- understanding how mercury enters surface waters and determining watershed management techniques that enhance or deter these inputs.
  • Carbon Studies- understanding sinks and sources of carbon, where they occur, and whether management can affect these pools.
  • BMP - testing and improving on current recommendations for forest managers, particularly those related to areas near surface waters and wetlands.
  • Agricultural Studies - moving from single crop to multi-crop systems and more diversified landscapes to improve water quality and enhance native biodiversity while still providing economic benefits to farmers.
  • Marcell Experimental Forest (MEF) Studies- the MEF contains six experimental watersheds, each consisting of an upland portion and a peatland that is the source of a stream leaving the watershed. These unique features provide a wide range of hydrological environments for research by our scientists.

More Information

This site is under development as the Forest Service brings together the Northeastern and North Central Research Stations to form the Northern Research Station, serving the Northeast and Midwest. Check back often as we expand our site to reflect our combined commitment to supporting the natural resources and people of the Northeastern and Midwestern United States.

For more details about our research visit

Last Modified: 12/21/2007