Credit: Henk Sijgers. CC BY-NC 2.0The American residential landscape is a product of culture, reflecting social practices through its managed plant composition. As a result of urbanization and globalization, residential ecosystems are increasingly homogeneous, with the potential to impact ecological dynamics at ever-expanding scales over the next 50 to 100 years. Despite this trend, researchers… Read more »
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 near several LTER sites found that the quest for this suburban… Read more »
A recent experiment examined the impacts of increased nitrogen on salt marshes—and the all-important microbes within them.
What information is needed to predict where fires will start in desert grasslands and how big they will get? Soil type turns out to play a larger role than expected.
Do arts and humanities programs at LTER sites further the Network’s mission? Recent research posits that art-humanities-science collaborations generate empathy – and associated emotions like inspiration, awe, and wonder – for the natural world. This empathy then drives society to engage with and care more broadly about nature.
Ecologists know that nitrogen, phosphorus and leaf area play key roles in the productivity of plant communities. But how tightly are they tied together? And are those relationships sustained over different types of landscapes? A recent study of tallgrass prairie communities, building on a previous study of arctic tundra, found leaf area index (LAI) to be strongly correlated to both total foliar nitrogen and total foliar phosphorus in several plant functional types (grass, forb, woody, and sedge) and grazing treatments (cattle, bison, and ungrazed).
There are certain events, such as severe storms or a crash in financial markets, that catalyze transitions in social-ecological systems, in a process that is akin to the way a hurricane or insect outbreak might catalyze an ecological transition. To understand the patterns that emerge in social-ecological systems, ecologists must understand governance, a process rooted in the key social science concepts of power and networks.
How-and when-do ecosystems change character? Are those shifts reversible? And what signs might precede them? Such questions are hard enough to answer in a single place. One might think that incorporating different kinds of ecosystems would only complicate the problem. But a group of scientists in the Long-Term Ecological Research Network is finding a remarkably consistent pattern by combining models and data across several long-term ecological experiments.
Climate-change is predicted to have a larger impact on Arctic regions than on temperate ecosystems. As a result, rural communities relying on local wild resources, or subsistence harvesting, are vulnerable to climate-change-induced environmental trends affecting the availability of fish, waterfowl, and other key resources.
Wetlands exist on every continent save Antarctica and manifest as a variety of habitats, from salt marshes to mangrove forests. They provide important ecosystem services, such as water purification and flood protection—often tied to their high productivity and diversity.