News

  • 2017 AGU Abstracts

    The events that shape and reshape ecosystems can be infrequent and often unpredictable. Conditions from past decades can profoundly affect the ways that today's forests, fields, and oceans function.

    The 28 sites of the NSF-funded Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network employ experiments, observation and modeling to understand ecological processes that play out over long times scales.

  • 2018 LTER All Scientists' Meeting

    Planning for the 2018 LTER All Scientists' Meeting is underway.

    Location: Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA
    September 30, 2018: Science Council and other committee meetings
    October 1-4, 2018: Main Meeting

    Planning Committee:

  • Shaping the Alaskan Forest. Canopy-down or forest-floor-up?

    While Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico recover from a devastating hurricane season, another natural disaster rages on the other side the continent. Following a record-hot summer and dry conditions, the northwestern United States and Canada have experienced one of the most intense fire seasons on record. As global temperatures rise, scientists will need a better understanding of how high-latitude, boreal forest ecosystems respond to changing fire regimes. A study by Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research (BNZ-LTER) researchers found that boreal wildfires can displace dominant tree species and alter understory bryophyte populations, ultimately changing forest composition, structure, and function.

  • A bigger role for light in dryland decomposition

    It’s kind of amazing what you can learn by taking a fresh look at old data. A re-analysis of data from a large and influential decomposition experiment suggests that—at least in arid lands—the degradation of organic matter by light plays a much bigger role than previously understood.

  • Tracking the king of the swamp

    Radio transmitters have moved beyond the days of talking to your friends through walkie talkies. They are now being used to track alligators, the rulers of the swamp, to learn more about their movements between freshwater and marine environments. Once attached, the GPS and radio transmission devices can track the alligator’s movements for up to four months. With the use of these devices, scientists from the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems LTER site were able to determine that time spent in each ecosystem is dependent on multiple physical factors within the environment, such as tidal range and temperature.

  • Species shrinkage in America’s national suburban ecosystem

    Although the modern “American Dream” is no longer defined by white picket fences, this perception of the “ideal” homestead still holds some influence on cultural norms: cookie-cutter houses lining a cul-de-sac, each with a pristinely manicured green lawn. A collaborative study of residential lawns across seven LTER sites found that the quest for this suburban ideal still pervades residential development and management throughout America. So much so, in fact, that the composition of plant communities in residential lawns across the different regional sites had more in common with each other than they did with their local, unmanaged counterparts.

  • In memory of Henry Gholz

    Henry Gholz and wife Jan Engert at Shortgrass Steppe LTER
    Henry and his wife Jan Engert at the
    Shortgrass Steppe LTER.

    Henry L. Gholz, of Fort Collins, CO, died rock climbing in Colorado on September 30, 2017.

  • Pre-AGU Workshop on Distributed Temperature Sensing

    Don’t miss: 

    The NSF Centers for Transformative Environmental Monitoring Programs (CTEMPs) distributed temperature sensing workshop, 

    The Cutting Edge of Fiber Optics: Temperature and Acoustic Applications in Earth Science
     Principles, Operation, Data Analysis and Demonstrations

    When: December 9-10, 2017 – just before the AGU meeting

    Where: Stennis Space Center, Mississippi – short drive from New Orleans

  • Investigating Whose Grass is Greener in Phoenix, AZ

    Phoenix, Arizona has an oasis culture although it receives little water and has a semi-arid climate. In desert cities like Phoenix, irrigating residential grass lawns uses a lot of the scarce water supply and water conservation advocates push for residents to replace their traditional lawns with drought resistant land cover, such as gravel or succulents. In a recent analysis of survey data,Central Arizona-Phoenix LTER researchers found that both social norms and legacy effects—or residual effects from past decisions and trends—influence lawn preferences in Phoenix.

  • Recovering New England Forests Mitigate Climate Change

    In nineteenth century New England, most of what is now forest was covered by farmland. To assess how climate change is affecting forest regrowth (and vice versa) researchers at the Harvard Forest LTER simulated forest recovery processes with and without climate change.

  • Controls on Freshwater Supplies in Drying Caribbean Watersheds

    Puerto Rico’s government is tackling their decade-long economic crisis by clearing 582,000 acres of tropical montane forest to expand the island’s agricultural sector. But forests play a major role in regulating water cycles—a critical ecosystem service for a region experiencing extended drought. A study by Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research Program (LUQ-LTER) researchers found that such extensive land clearing would likely increase freshwater supply, but also increase flooding risk.

  • Beating Back Invasive Seaweed

    Invasive seaweed is disturbing native ecosystems in the rocky reef off of the Southern California coast. The seaweed species, Sargassum horneri, has spread aggressively from Santa Barbara to Isla Navidad, inhibiting native algae growth and altering marine ecosystems. Santa Barbara Coastal LTER researchers compared approaches for clearing the invasive from California’s coastal ecosystems, to determine the most effective and efficient methods.

  • Asynchrony Contributes to Tropical Biodiversity

    diverse tropical forest

    Original article in Nature  |  Commentary in Nature

  • New LTER logo

    As the LTER Network moves forward with a new web site and an invigorated public presence, a new logo can offer a stronger sense of the Network's purpose and scientific mission. It offers a chance to freshen our image in the minds of some of our major stakeholders and forms the basis for the design aesthetic of the new LTER Network web site, coming this fall.

    LTER network logo 2017

  • Test of Ecological Theory Informs Stream Restoration Choices

    In the United States, society spends billions of dollars each year on stream restoration. Knowing where restoration efforts are likely to be most effective could help get more restoration-bang for those bucks. A recent study of 13 river restoration projects by investigators from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER found that restoration appeared to be more effective at supporting increased biodiversity in isolated headwater streams than in more connected mainstem reaches.

  • Wildfire Ponzi Scheme? The continental carbon exchange

    If carbon is currency, wildfires are the brokers; that is, they distribute carbon between land and air. In the short-run, fire emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Over time, it also strengthens subsequent carbon uptake through plant regrowth. This exchange is like a natural Ponzi scheme - the carbon offsets from yesterday’s fires take up today’s emissions. As severity and frequency of wildfires in North America continue to grow, the big question on LTER researchers’ minds was: How do recent, intense fires affect this carbon exchange between land and atmosphere? Using a modeling tool and long-term wildfire data, researchers found that although fire activity has increased, the continental carbon inputs and outputs are still in balance - at least for now.

  • Striking a Balance Between Access and Privacy in Private Land Conservation

    Striking a balance between public access and privacy is often a challenge fraught with debate. In regards to private land conservation, the debate hinges on deferring to landowner privacy at the expense of  environmental stability, or vice-versa. Like all land, private land is essential for biodiversity, natural resource production, and water quality, yet landowners increasingly threaten environmental well-being with development and other unsustainable land uses.

  • A Changing Tide: How local human disturbances affect sandy beach ecosystems

    To maintain the image of a pristine beach—wide stretches of sand absent of fly-ridden piles of seaweed—managers often add sand to beaches and remove seaweed. This removal may lead to a more enjoyable experience for humans, but it constitutes a major loss of habitat for sandy beach critters, which use the piles of washed-up kelp for food and shelter. Revisiting sites that had been sampled in the 1970’s, researchers from the Santa Barbara Coastal LTER found that beaches with high human disturbances saw declines in species associated with wrack, or beached giant kelp.

  • LTER Is a Major Presence at 2017 ESA

  • New LTER Site Map

    In 2017, NSF funded three new LTER sites, bringing the total to 28. A new map of the sites is now available for download and use.

    Just the map - screen resolution  |  Just the map - print resolution

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