Established in 1975, the Ecosystems Center operates as a collegial association of scientists under the leadership of director Anne E. Giblin. Because the complex nature of modern ecosystems research requires a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach, center scientists work together on projects, as well as with investigators from other centers at the MBL and from other institutions, combining expertise from a wide range of disciplines. Together, they conduct research to answer a variety of questions at field sites ranging from Arctic Alaska, Sweden and Russia to Brazil, and from the temperate forests of New England to the estuaries of the eastern United States and Panama.
One of the important reasons for conducting basic research in ecology is the development of a sound foundation for environmental policy and management. Center scientists are actively involved in the application of scientific knowledge to the solution of environmental problems in a variety of ways, including briefing federal and state legislators and administrators, advising resource managers and serving on committees responsible for formulating policy and coordinating research. Researchers also work with non-governmental organizations and government agencies on assessing the impact of development on ecosystems or evaluating the success of various approaches to resource management.