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.

NCO and other organizational updates will continue to appear in Network News on a quarterly basis or as needed.

Can seagrass meadows mitigate climate change?

As anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase, scientists have now recognized seagrass meadows—which typically have high rates of carbon storage—as important ‘blue carbon’ sinks. However, rising ocean temperatures threaten seagrass meadows, along with their ability to retain carbon. This underlines the need for precise ecosystem data on the vulnerability and resilience of these meadows… 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.

Legacy carbon takes a hit as younger forest stands burn

Aftermath of forest fire

In 2014, massive wildfires swept through the Northwest Territories of Canada, burning over two million hectares of boreal forest, as well as the highly organic soils on which they stood. Researchers with the Bonanza Creek LTER used this unplanned experiment to learn whether the carbon released from burned land had been recently deposited or if… Read more »

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone – or at least threatened

hemlock branches

Credit: Jack Pearce via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)Species that are abundant often go ignored by conservation planning until an acute threat to their populations emerge – and by then, sometimes it’s too late. According to a new article in the journal Ecosphere, common species are often critically important as structural, dominant, or foundation species in… Read more »

Diverse soil improves plant diversity after all!

It stands to reason that variable environmental conditions would support greater plant diversity, but few experiments have offered concrete support for the “environmental heterogeneity hypothesis.” In re-establishing tallgrass prairie, the correlation took over 15 years to emerge.

Integrating plant community and ecosystem responses to chronic global change drivers: Toward an explanation of patterns and improved global predictions

JRN LTER researchers prepare a precipitation addition/reduction experiment.

Background and plans Many global change drivers (GCDs) lead to chronic alterations in resource availability. As communities change through time in response to these GCDs, the magnitude and direction of ecosystem responses are also predicted to change in a non-linear fashion. We proposed to examine whether plant community dynamics are predictive of shifts in ecosystem… Read more »