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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.

Air Pollution (NWT LTER)
Alpine environments are sensitive indicators of air pollution. By combining monitoring of high-elevation ecosystems and field experiments, NWT scientists have determined that current levels of nitrogen pollution associated with industry and agriculture are altering alpine plant diversity and are polluting lakes and streams, and may soon acidify soils. Long-term ecological measurements and...
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Water Towers (NWT LTER)
Scientists at NWT have documented how high-elevation mountain ecosystems serve as "water towers" to store seasonal snow until it is released later in the year during snowmelt runoff. Every year this melting snow provides large quantities of high quality water that drives the economy and the ecology of the western United States. Much of our research at NWT LTER is related to how changes in...
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Early Warning Signs (NWT LTER)
NWT research indicates that alpine ecosystems provide important early warning signs of global climate change. Alpine plants and animals survive on the razor's edge of environmental tolerances, making them more sensitive to changes in climate than downstream ecosystems. Signs of stress in the American pika: The hamster-sized American pika or "rock rabbit" is an icon of rocky landscapes that...
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