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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.

Hurricanes, Humans, and Future Ecosystems (LUQ LTER)
Ecosystems are increasingly subjected to combined natural and human disturbances. Since 1990 in Puerto Rico we have been studying human and hurricane disturbance and their interactions in a tropical forest. The work takes place on the 16-ha Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot (LFDP) in the Luquillo Mountains. Part of the plot was logged or farmed up until the 1930s (Fig. 1). On the rest of the plot...
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New Pathways (LUQ LTER)
Nitrogen is a key resource for plants and animals. Thus there has been much research on what controls nitrogen retention and loss in terrestrial ecosystems. But much uncertainty remains, especially with regard to gaseous nitrogen losses. This is particularly troubling in the context of human modification of the nitrogen cycle, which is dramatically increasing nitrogen pollution, runoff, and the...
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Tropical Carbon Cycling (LUQ LTER)
Tropical forests (Fig. 1) absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other terrestrial biome globally. They also account for about 30% of global net primary production (i.e., carbon uptake) in about 17% of the land area. These ecosystems play a key role in the global carbon cycle, but there is growing concern that global warming could decrease the ability of tropical forests to...
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