Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) forests in New England are changing rapidly with the invasion of the hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA, Adelges tsugae), an exotic insect pest that kills hemlock trees. The adelgid is just beginning to be observed at Harvard Forest, making this the right moment to begin intensive physiological, ecological and monitoring studies of our hemlock forests. We gathered detailed baseline information for several hemlock stands across Harvard Forest. We surveyed community vegetation structure and composition, and began to monitor soil nitrogen cycling. These measurements will allow us to link the long-term history of these hemlock stands to other current studies of hemlock response to adelgid infestation, and will provide the basis for intensive study of hemlock dynamics with the stands' anticipated decline.