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Volunteers from the Ecosystems Center help build a hoophouse in Hatchville that will be used by center researchers to over-winter plants used in experiments.

Hoophouse Construction Marks Beginning of New Plant Growth Facility

A crew of Ecosystems Center volunteers spent the warm afternoon of December 1 erecting a hoophouse at the MBL property at Technology Park in Hatchville. The hoophouse will be used immediately to house trees and sagebrush over the winter that Ecosystems Center senior scientist Zoe Cardon uses in her research exploring interactions between plant roots and microbes in soils.

Chris Neill, associate scientist at the center, also plans to use the hoophouse to explore germination rates of seeds of common local plants used in his Martha’s Vineyard sandplain restoration experiments, conducted in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy.

Builders proudly pose in the new hoophouse: Suzanne Thomas, Rebecca Prosser, Jim Galloway, Dan White, John Hobbie, Zoe Cardon, Andy Dolan, Kate Morkeski, Will Whitted and Matthew Erickson. Not pictured are Joe Vallino and Jim Tang.
The hoophouse stands near the location where a new research-grade greenhouse (Conviron Aurora) will be under construction soon, to be completed in summer 2009. The new greenhouse will provide the precision environmental conditions and space necessary for research ranging from exploration of interactions between plant roots and the soil microbes around them (whose activities control soil nutrient cycling), to examination of plant responses to changing environmental conditions expected from climate shifts. A range of plant types will be grown, including fast-growing, economically important plantation trees such a poplar, dominant trees from northeastern forests such as red oak, a variety of agriculturally important plants such as tomato and bean, and wild grasses and forbs common to grasslands and forests of the U.S.