Relying on a 114 year-long data set, researchers from the Sevilleta LTER have developed a more accurate way to model climate sensitivity functions that describe the relationship between ecological variability and plant productivity, rather than focusing on linear relationships between ecosystem response and average climate trends, as is more typical. While variances in factors such as… Read more »
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Hurricanes are typically considered destructive and disastrous, with high-speed winds exceeding 75 miles per hour and torrential downpours. These powerful storms can have major impacts on tropical forests, ripping open the forest canopy and causing organic debris to pile up on the forest floor. Despite these seemingly destructive qualities, new research suggests that ecological disturbance… Read more »
Kelp forests have long been known to harbor a high number and diversity of marine species, from tiny crustaceans to large fish and marine mammals. This biodiversity tends to be attributed to the complex structure and productivity of giant kelp, earning it the title ‘foundational species’. Surprisingly, however, little quantitative data has been assessed to… Read more »
In ecology, timing is key to understanding how daily, seasonal, or yearly cycles impact environmental processes. But it’s not just about how often impacts occur, but also over what length of time. Decades worth of data synthesized by researchers at Coweeta LTER provide some of the clearest evidence to date that long-term observations of ecosystem… Read more »
For those living in South Florida, sea level rise is a very real problem that’s impacting coastal areas right now, and is expected to worsen over the next decade. While most discussions on sea level rise in Florida focus on highly populated coastal cities such as Miami and Tampa, sea level rise is also having… Read more »
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 »
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 »
When we think of forest ecosystems, we usually picture dense thickets of trees, the vibrant buzz of insects and birds, and lush undergrowth carpeting the floor. We often fail to recognize the complexity hidden beneath the surface—a vast and ancient network of fungi, called mycorrhizae interwoven with every plant root. These 450 million year-old symbiotic… Read more »
The majority of grasslands around the world have been destroyed or converted for human use, either for agricultural or urban development. In North America, for example, only four percent of the once vast tallgrass prairies are left. Understanding grassland community dynamics could be a critical part of conserving those that remain. Plant-pollinator relationships are… Read more »
Every step of a tree’s growth is on a strict time-table, from the first emergence of life sprouting up through the soil to the formation of vast green canopies that block out almost all of the sun’s light. These growth cycles (budding leaves, flowering, etc.) are controlled by various environmental factors that act as cues… Read more »