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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.

Scaling Up to the Catchment (CWT LTER)
Though Coweeta became one of the first LTER sites in 1980, the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory as funded by the United States Forest Service has been in existence since 1934. Today the LTER and the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory coexist in the same complex of buildings and laboratories, collaborating and sharing data that now spans nearly eight decades. This data set has given Coweeta researchers...
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Forest Biodiversity (CWT LTER)
Simple models predict that biodiversity of forests should be much lower than that actually observed. Because only a few limiting resources are evident for trees, simple models would indicate that a forest would ultimately stabilize with only the few species that are the strongest competitors for the few available niches. However, observed diversity is much higher. High-dimensional regulation (...
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Future Nitrogen Cycling (CWT LTER)
Understanding how global change will affect patterns of nitrogen (N) loss from forests is an area of special importance for researchers. Atmospheric deposition of N associated with anthropogenic activities and the sensitivity of microbial processes that convert organic N to plant available forms to temperature both point to the likelihood of increased N export from forests as increased rates of...
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Climate Change and Habitat (CWT LTER)
Ecologists have long been interested in how patterns of species distribution and diversity shift with changing climates, a concern that has spiked as the reality of rapid global climate change becomes increasingly apparent. Knowing whether certain species are threatened by shifting climate patterns is important for planning management activities and predicting how ecosystem functions can change...
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Clean Water and Land Markets (CWT LTER)
The growing population and increased consumption rates of the last hundred years make clear that we no longer have the luxury of using economic models that externalize environmental costs as if natural resources were infinite. The rapidly growing population in North Carolina- estimated to increase by 50% over the next quarter century and affect up to 8 million acres of natural land- is a prime...
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Predicting Regional Climate (CWT LTER)
Predicting the impact of climatic changes on biota and ecological processes hinges on accurate projections of regional climate change. Researchers have already shown that there exists enormous variation in the manifestation of global climate change from region to region, with different areas of the globe experiencing widely varying shifts in climate patterns. Perched precariously in the middle of...
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Controlling Plant Invaders (CWT LTER)
Invasive species are changing the structure and function of our native ecosystems, there is a need for effective management of these species to protect ecosystem services and biodiversity. Through a desk study which collated all published research on the primary plant invader of forests across 25 U.S. states, Microstegium vimineum, Coweeta researchers showed how ecological theory can be used to...
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