LTER Science Update provides short, accessible articles describing recent news and publications from across the Network. We hope you will be informed and inspired. Subscribers can sign up online and manage their own subscription settings, so feel free to share with interested colleagues. Have a recent paper or project that may be of interest? Please send us a few basic details using our news submission form and we’ll follow up.

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Choose Your Poison: Plant Disease Outbreaks May Be Curbed by Periodic Wildfire

A controlled burn in Cedar Creek oakland

Wildfires have made headlines worldwide in recent years — and for good reason. Evidence points to increasing wildfire frequency and intensity across many vulnerable ecosystems as climate change impacts grow ever more evident. However, periodic wildfires in ecosystems adapted to them can actually help inhibit plant disease outbreaks, according to new research from Cedar Creek… Read more »

The Edge of Agriculture: Pests and Crop Configuration

A prairie strip growing in wheat at the KBS LTER Main Cropping Systems Experiment.

In agricultural landscapes, predatory insects provide an essential ecosystem service — valued at billions of dollars annually — by suppressing pests that damage crops. A new study that includes data from Kellogg Biological Station LTER (KBS LTER) found that natural pest suppression gains a big boost when agricultural landscapes are patchy and include a high… Read more »

Seeing the forest for the shrubs in Southern Appalachia

Rhododendron shrubs leave no space left unfilled as its branches stretch over the forest floor and streams. Photo credit: Maura Dudley.

As ecosystems respond to human activity, what organisms will emerge as new trailblazers, shaping the diversity and resilience of these changing environments? And how can land managers identify these species early on to better prepare for the future? Forests of southern Appalachia have a history fraught with human activity. Hardy and towering, American chestnut and… Read more »

LTER Sites Central to Several New NSF Critical Zone Cluster Awards

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced ten new awards for its Critical Zone Collaborative Network (CZCN), and LTER sites will play a prominent role in four of them. The awards fund a wide range of investigations to better understand the ‘critical zone’, the area of our planet where water, air, soil, rock and living… Read more »

Wildlife Friendly Cities in the face of Covid-19

Credit: Laura Templeton We’ve all spent the majority of 2020 stuck inside. As we’ve been staring out our windows longing to return to our ‘normal’ lives, where we can meet co-workers in the coffee room or catch up with our favorite podcasts on our commute, we might have noticed some interesting wildlife behavior. Maybe we… Read more »

Recent boreal wildfires are changing forest communities in Interior Alaska

Bonanza Creek LTER boreal forest after a fire

As boreal forest wildfires increase in severity and frequency, new patterns of post-fire recovery are emerging. Research led by Jill Johnstone at Bonanza Creek LTER has found that recent wildfires led to changes in tree species dominance that are persisting through post-fire succession in Alaskan boreal forests, indicating the potential for a widespread shift in… Read more »

Thinking about long-term futures to make better decisions today

Credit: CAP-LTER. CC BY-SA 4.0 Anticipating the needs of cities in the future is a key aspect of urban sustainability. One approach to planning for sustainable cities is for researchers and practitioners to work together to develop scenarios that benefit communities as well as ecosystems. Central Arizona Phoenix LTER (CAP LTER) is taking an innovative approach… Read more »

Cold, Dry, and Phosphorus Limited: microbial activity in nutrient poor habitats

rocky, mountainous landscape

High elevation and high latitude ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to climate change impacts because they represent the upward range limits for organisms that are adapted to cold temperatures and low nutrient levels. Two of the biggest threats to high elevation communities are nutrient deposition (e.g. nitrogen) and climate warming. A new study by Bueno de… Read more »

Sea level rise impacting nitrogen cycle in tidal freshwater marshes

GCE LTER researchers simulated the effects of long term (press) and short term (pulse) salt water intrusions in tidal freshwater marshes. Press conditions were more disastrous for the ecosystem, altering the N cycle, while the landscape was able to recover from pulse conditions.