LTER Road Trip: Zebra Mussels Arrive in Lake Mendota

Dane holds two mussel-encrusted concrete pieces.

Vince Butitta, the graduate student teaching assistant, noticed a small bivalve attached to the end of the pipe, and his stomach dropped. The undergrads had just discovered the first recorded Zebra Mussel in Lake Mendota. Zebra Mussels are “an invasive, fingernail-sized mollusk that [are] native to fresh waters in Eurasia. Their name comes from the… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Vegetation Surveys Under the Waves

Collecting and recording vegetation samples.

The North Temperate Lakes LTER vegetation survey team leapt out of their research boat, wetsuits and dive gear ready to go. The survey site bordered the opposite side of Trout Lake, a straight shot from the research facility and student dorms. Two bald eagles, native to this part of Northern Wisconsin, appeared disgruntled at our… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Returning Fish Diversity to Crystal Lake

Hundreds of people rimmed Crystal Lake in Northern Wisconsin on a hot afternoon. I stood along the shoreline with Noah Lottig from the North Temperate Lakes (NTL) LTER, watching the flocking gulls surround swimmers wading in and out of the sandy edge. The lake looked beautiful, clear and surrounded by dark green trees and patches… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Busy Bees at Kellogg Biological Station

A Kellogg bee box.

In a grassy clearing between crop hectares at the Kellogg Biological Station LTER, Dr. Nick Haddad, Principle Investigator, stares into the dark recesses of a bee box, set a few feet off the ground. The research team places the bees here while they’re still in cocoons. When they hatch, the bees gather fluorescent yellow, powdered… Read more »

Got Shrubs? Woody plants are changing ecological communities around the globe

The Knights Who Say “Ni” would be delighted by a growing trend across many of the planet’s major biomes—tree and grass species are being taken over by shrubbery. Unfortunately, this phenomenon isn’t so favorable for native vegetation that struggles to compete with an invading shrub army (the term ecologists often use is ‘woody plant encroachment’)…. Read more »

Integrating Human and Environmental Responses in Urban Ecology

Multidisciplinary research is a positive shift toward understanding the complexity of human-natural systems. However, combining social science and ecological science methods does not necessarily equate to integration of ideas. Drawing from their urban ecology and environmental anthropology backgrounds, a group of LTER researchers propose using conceptual frameworks that go beyond characterizing social-ecological interactions as stepwise… Read more »

Loner Lizards Stress in Shared Shade

Sceloporus jarrovi (Yarrow's spiny lizard)

Human introverts aren’t the only ones who get stressed in shared social environments. Lizards like patchy and spread out shaded spaces where they can avoid interactions with other lizards.

LTER Road Trip: How Soil Crusts Impact the Landscape

Dr. Rudgers examines a sample of soil crust.

Blue grama grass, golden stems meeting dead undergrowth beneath, completely surrounded Dr. Jen Rudgers in the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The meadow stretched as far as the eye could see, eventually meeting a dense slope of creosote shrubland, surrounded by bronze mountains in central New Mexico. The cool of early morning had already given… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Finding Pika Poo

Looking for signs of pika among the rocks.

My second morning at the Niwot Ridge LTER dawned warm but windier than the day before, and I zipped up a red jacket over my long sleeves and jeans. Ashley Whipple, a graduate student, met me at the office building, and we trundled into one of the two SUVs shuttling up to the field site… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Fluxes on Top of the World

On top of the world at Niwot Ridge.

My rental car clock read 7:30 a.m., but the parking lot at Niwot Ridge Long Term Experimental Research Site (LTER) was already buzzing with activity. Young people slammed rear car doors and packed backpacks, filled water bottles, and slathered on sunscreen. Inside the main building, a new cohort of young ecologists listened to a safety… Read more »