LTER Road Trip: A Steep Transect at Coweeta Hydrologic Lab

Leaf litter basket at transect #327, used to measure rates of leaf fall.

Slip-sliding through the decades I paused at the top of Coweeta Hydrologic Lab’s transect #327, peering down, down, down at the slope beneath me. Katie Bower, a research technician at Coweeta, and two summer interns had already started down the narrow pathway, accustomed to its slippery leaf layer and sharp contours. Taking a deep breath,… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Coweeta Listening Project

Jason Meador of the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee talks to ICON students in Cat Creek.

I flip open my copy of The Franklin Press while sipping coffee at a field station, and there, in a bi-monthly column, is an article by Coweeta Hydrologic Lab staff, answering the scientific questions of local citizens. The column is just one part of the Coweeta Listening Project (CLP), an initiative of the Coweeta LTER.

LTER Road Trip: Real Time Evolution

A red legged salamander from Coweeta LTER site.

Salamanders are very sensitive to changes in both precipitation and temperature, and scientists at the Coweeta Hydrologic Lab have discovered that they represent a hotbed of evolutionary activity. That’s right – evolution is happening before our eyes, in real time.

LTER Road Trip: A Hot Time in the Forest

To evaluate the effects of soil warming, scientists have measured soil gases including methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide as well as nitrogen fluxes every month since 1991, comparing the heated plots to control plots nearby. One of the most interesting results they have documented comes from the forest’s tiniest organisms – the microbes that digest downed leaves and branches (also known as the ecosystem’s detritus). At first, the microbes worked overtime in the heated plots, releasing more carbon dioxide through their respiration.

LTER Road Trip: Hemlock Hospice

The hemlock is a native tree species that was once common from northern Alabama to Nova Scotia. Stretching tall with thick needles, the hemlock creates an entire ecosystem beneath its large branches. In the Smoky Mountains, its shade used to cool streams just enough to allow the eastern brook trout to thrive. Unfortunately, these hemlocks are in dramatic decline.

2018 NSF LTER Symposium: Understanding Our Ocean Connections

colorful coral reef

The National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network presents an overview of the rich and varied research taking place at its 28 sites. In 2018, the topic of this annual half-day symposium is ocean ecosystems and their connections to marine species and human well-being.

The Grasshopper Sparrow – Breeding Nomad of the Grassland Prairie

At first glance, the grasshopper sparrow may not look like much. Native to the tallgrass prairies of the American Great Plains, it’s a small brown and black-speckled bird with a wingspan of 8 inches. But this little bird is gaining recognition for its unusual behavior: it has an amazing ability to cover long distances over… Read more »

Grow with the flow: evaluating the interactive effects of seawater conditions on coral growth

Although coral reefs have been the subject of ecological studies for nearly a century, the role that environmental conditions play in coral development is still a partial mystery. LTER researchers at Mo’orea Coral Reef have been exploring coral-environmental interactions in an effort to better understand coral growth. The team recently investigated how two key abiotic… Read more »