In 2016 and 2017, blogger and photographer Erika Zambello launched a road trip to visit as many LTER sites as possible. Follow her travels through the LTER Road Trip StoryMap or peruse the stories below.

See more of Erika’s work at E. Zambello Writing and Photography.

Fire Brings New Perspectives on Disturbance at H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest

View of the Holiday Fire burning through H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest

By Natasha Griffin, PhD candidate at Oregon State University The staff of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest LTER site had almost no time to prepare when a massive wildfire swept through the region in early September. Stoked by dry late-summer conditions and extreme high winds, Oregon’s Holiday Farm fire began spreading rapidly as soon as… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Boreal Forest Research Legacies

Xanthe Walker organizes tree cores while sampling in the 1987 burn near Delta Junction, Alaska.

By Haley Dunleavy, PhD Candidate at Northern Arizona University Leaving my house, I feel like a runaway. I am packed inside an economy-sized rental car with my field clothes, camping gear, and of course, face masks, heading 300 miles north to meet my advisor Michelle Mack and fellow lab members for a couple days of… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Tundra roots may hold the secret to predicting a future Arctic

By Haley Dunleavy It’s a beautiful August day in the Arctic. The sun, now finally rising and setting after months of circling the sky, warms my face; neon yellows, pinks, reds, and greens of fall foliage speckle across the tundra, and most importantly, the previously incessant mosquitos have died off. I’m standing on a single-planked… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Fishing for Answers in Moorea’s Coral Reefs

Dana performing an algae assay to measure herbivory in the lagoon.

By Erin Winslow Every day, third-year Ph.D. student Dana Cook zips up her Patagonia shorty wetsuit and puts on her bucket hat for a full day out on the lagoon of Moorea’s southern tip. Boat necessities include a GPS, inner tube floaty, underwater slate and pencil, a watch, and a sleeve of Sao crackers. She… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Rising lakes in an Antarctic desert

By Natasha Griffin The lake ice crunches beneath my boots with each tentative step I take. Realistically, I know there’s not much danger here—I’m standing atop Lake Bonney, one of the permanently frozen lakes of Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys. The ice underfoot is at least a few meters thick, creating a sturdy barrier between me… Read more »

LTER Road Trip: Zebra Mussels Arrive in Lake Mendota

Dane holds two mussel-encrusted concrete pieces.

In 2015, a group of undergraduates from the University of Wisconsin, Madison launched boats into Lake Mendota at the edge of campus, ready to put lessons from the classrooms to the test in hands-on field research activities. As they moved through research protocols, a student brought a metal pole from the soft bottom to 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 »

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 »