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The word “community” has so many meanings for ecologists! There is the scientific community: colleagues, mentors, funders, students, and aspiring scientists. There is the human community: residents of cities and towns, nature-lovers, and beneficiaries of ecosystem services. There are ecological communities: consistent groupings of organisms that function together in (sometimes) predictable ways.

The word has particular resonance for the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network, which often sees itself as an extended family, integrally woven into the fabric of the larger ecological community. Many members of the LTER family will feature prominently at this year’s Ecological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting, which takes place August 11-16 in Louisville, KY with a theme of “Bridging Communities and Ecosystems: Inclusion as an Ecological Imperative.”

In her keynote address, MacArthur Award winner and Niwot Ridge LTER Principal Investigator Katherine Suding challenges ecologists to take a hard look at the concepts of resilience and recovery and asks whether interdisciplinary concepts such as adaptive capacity might prove more useful in applying ecological science in the face of climate change.

Social-ecological science at the urban interface is the topic of a second plenary, offered by Daniel Childers, principal investigator of the Central Arizona-Phoenix LTER. Childers, a wetland ecologist with a substantial body of work in urban sustainability, water dynamics in cities, and ecology-design nexus, has also co-directed the Urban Sustainability Research Coordination Network.

A Tuesday afternoon talk presents results from the LTER Metacommunities synthesis working group, which combined community-scale data from LTER sites in a wide variety of biomes to understand what factors maintain stability in ecological metacommunities — the assemblages of individual local communities found in a given region. Climatic and resource variability are important factors, the researchers find, but frequently work in opposing directions at different scales or in different biomes. The findings results from more than two years of intense collaboration, most recently funded through a synthesis working group supported by the LTER Network Office. The Office will be requesting new proposals for synthesis groups in the coming weeks, which will be announced on the LTER Network web site and the LTER Science Update newsletter.

Other LTER-related events include an ESA Inspire session on how (and how not to) assemble diverse data for synthesis, and a data help desk jointly organized by the Environmental Data Initiative (EDI) and several other members of the ecological data community.

Individual talks and posters are listed below and cover topics as diverse as the ecology of segregation, connectivity in barrier island communities, and modeling complex landscapes using machine learning.

Data Help Desk

Ecological data repositories, search frameworks and data specialists will collaborate at the ESA 2019 meeting in Louisville to bring a Data Help Desk to the Exhibit Hall. The Environmental Data Initiative (EDI), iDigBio, Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP), DataCite, DataONE, and Arctic Data Center will offer three types of assistance:

  1. Data Reference Desk – For general information management and data discovery and use questions.
  2. Meet the Expert – One-on-one sessions. Stop by the Help Desk and make an appointment!
  3. Presentations/Software demos – About ecological data topics ranging from data repositories to analytical tools to creating metadata.

LTER Talks and Posters

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Not seeing your LTER-related talk or poster poster here? Please be sure to tell us about it, either by including LTER in your title, abstract, or affiliation — or via our online form.