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LTER Key Research Findings

Among the many research results from LTER sites, some findings stand out as being particularly important to achieve the LTER goal of providing information to conserve, protect, and manage the nation's ecosystems. Short descriptions of key findings at each site emphasize the importance of long-term data in understanding the pace and pattern of ecological change.

Mapping Urban Lands (BES LTER)
Traditional land classifications in the US emphasized the contrast between urban or built-up versus wild or managed lands. Based on that fundamental split, urban lands have been subdivided into such categories as commercial, residential, transportation, industrial, and mixed urban. For some purposes, this relatively coarse classification is useful. However, scientists interested in the joint...
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Perceptions of Justice (BES LTER)
Twenty-five years of environmental justice scholarship shows that racial and ethnic minorities are more likely than whites to live near facilities that release toxins into the air, land, and water. Even when incomes are similar, racial and ethnic minorities are overrepresented in neighborhoods with polluting industry nearby. In Baltimore, we find an unexpected pattern -- white neighborhoods...
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Islands of Green (BES LTER)
Urban ecosystems offer fundamentally new habitat for both animal and plant species. While originally viewed as largely disturbed environments, urban places are emerging not as ecological disasters, but rich environments where humans interact strongly with organisms, generating new habitat and assembling new ecological communities. In Baltimore, green space is now known to harbor many species...
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River Corridors (BES LTER)
Riparian (streamside) zones are critical transition zones in the landscape, situated in between upland and aquatic ecosystems. There is a complex web of interactions between riparian zones and surrounding ecosystems that have an important influence on the movement of water and nutrients across the landscape and on biodiversity. Many nutrients are transported from upland ecosystems, especially...
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Urban Watersheds (BES LTER)
A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. The watershed approach, where the quantity and quality of water leaving a watershed is sampled is like urinalysis, where doctors monitor chemicals in the urine to assess a patient's health. The watershed approach has been applied very successfully in many LTER sites to understand...
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For the People, By the People (BES LTER)
Conventional wisdom often holds that concern for the environmental is concentrated among residents of wealthier and predominantly white communities who can afford to make quality of life issues, such as environmental quality, a high priority. Poorer, ethnically mixed communities are assumed to be more preoccupied with satisfying basic needs than with protecting the environment. This conventional...
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