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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.

To Be or Not to Be (GCE LTER)
Why are there more organisms in some parts of the landscape than others? Are there genetic differences between populations living in one area as opposed to another? Is it because adults do better in some areas than others? Or, in marine systems, is it because there are more larvae settling from the plankton in one place than another? In the GCE-LTER study site on the Georgia coast,...
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Microbes and Nitrogen (GCE LTER)
Modern molecular techniques have vastly increased our ability to catalogue molecular diversity, but do not reveal how this diversity affects ecological processes. GCE-LTER researchers (in collaboration with researchers funded by the NSF-funded Sapelo Island Microbial Observatory and the Moore Foundation) have combined state of the art molecular methods with ecological studies to explore both...
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Nitrogen to the Coast (GCE LTER)
The export of excess nitrogen input from rivers has been identified as one of the most significant problems facing coastal ecosystems, resulting in eutrophication and adverse environmental effects such as hypoxia and harmful algal blooms. Researchers at the GCE LTER constructed nitrogen budgets for the watersheds of all the major rivers in the southeast to determine the total input of nitrogen as...
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Salt Marsh Herbivores (GCE LTER)
It is obvious to the most casual observer that natural communities are different in different parts of the world. Early naturalists from Europe, for example, marveled at the diversity of life that they found on trips to the tropics. Ever since, scientists have wondered how ecological processes might vary geographically. Early workers suggested that interactions between species might be more...
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Sea Level Rise (GCE LTER)
Global climate change is predicted to cause extensive changes in the earth's ecosystems. Sea level rise (SLR) currently averages 3 mm yr-1, but is expected to accelerate over the coming century. Some of the habitats most vulnerable to SLR are tidal wetlands, which exist at the interface between land and sea. Decades of research at the Georgia Coastal Ecosystems (GCE) LTER has shown that coastal...
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