In the center of the grassland and shrubland of the Jornada LTER, I gaze across short mesh nets, arranged in an X and stretching approximately one foot across in each direction, sitting unobtrusively on the ground between mesquite, bushes, and snakeweed bunches. Spherical cottontail rabbit pellets congregated in the low places, and John Anderson, Research… Read more »
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.
What plant communities can tell us about rodents Dr. Debra Peters has spent over 20 years studying changes across 15 study sites in the Jornada Basin, which take an immense amount of effort to monitor three times a year. Field technicians fan out across the landscape, measuring the volume of plant line and estimating new… Read more »
The land that now encompasses the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research site has been impacted by people for centuries. Native Americans once camped here between the mountain ranges during the summer months, gathering grasses and burning mesquite for fuel. In the 19th century, cattle ranchers moved in from the east, drawn by the same… Read more »
Exploring the Estuary The waters lapping against the shoreline marshes reflected bright blue sky above. I sat in the front of the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research (VCR LTER) site’s boat, exploring the estuary with VCR LTER’s dedicated staff. The tall Spartina alternifora grasses waved in the breeze a foot or two above… Read more »
Islands on the Move I stood on a windy barrier island, hair whipping around my face as my boots crunched across beach seashells. The waves crashed into the sand, here and there stirring up food for one of the many gulls seeking rest or prey on this island. Before me stretched the Atlantic Ocean, as… Read more »
A Long Legacy Victoria Long has a deep connection to the land here in Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Her family has farmed this land for generations—since 1652 to be exact. She grew up a few miles from the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, attended the local high school and began to work… Read more »
Dan Dillon, Ben Glass-Siegel, Nate Vandiver, and I stood at the edge of a Baltimore road. Cars whizzed by overhead as Glass-Siegel and Vandiver picked their way through dense grass to the river running swiftly beneath the bridge, the blades swishing against their long pants as they blazed a path to the rocky shoreline.
I like to think of Dr. Neil Pederson as a detective. We met in his office at the Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research site (HFR-LTER), on the second floor of one of their many beautiful buildings in what feels like a college campus. Multiple sections of tree trunks sit here and there, polished so that the tree rings are clearly visible. Post-it notes and circular stickers mark years of particular interest.
Students gathered at a saltmarsh site in Massachusetts, taking a break from their regular school day routine to remove invasive perennial pepperweed plants from among the bushes and marsh grasses. Part of a suite of programs and teacher workshops aimed at educating local students and adults about marsh ecosystems, this field trip pairs ecological research with real restoration projects.
We stopped at the edge of the river, and Kelsey hopped out with a water quality data sensor to take readings of salinity, temperature, oxygen. Brown water churned around him as he walked slowly across the muddy bottom, silt billowing in the creek channel like clouds of smoke. The data logger is part of a network of such sensors, each taking readings from different parts of the marsh ecosystem.