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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A Balancing Act for Coastal Freshwater Marshes

On the boundaries of fresh and saltwater systems, coastal marshes give rise to diverse, productive ecosystems that act as carbon sinks. Their secret? Freshwater marsh plants receive just the right amount of nutrients and salt from periodic seawater tides to thrive. However, incursions of saltwater into these systems are increasing —often caused by drought and… Read more »

Maintaining Ecosystem Services in the Yahara Watershed and Beyond

The Yahara may sound like the name of a vast desert, but it’s actually a 359-square mile watershed in southern Wisconsin. The Yahara Watershed is a mix of urbanized land (including the state capital), productive agriculture land, and a chain of lakes called the Yahara Lakes. Because of its diverse environment, the Yahara provides many… Read more »

A Silver Lining in Arctic Permafrost Thaw

Climate change is already impacting polar habitats such as the Arctic tundra, where increasing temperatures are causing permafrost to thaw and exposing soil and organic matter that have been buried for thousands of years. Many scientists predicted that this soil, once exposed, would release a massive amount of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to… Read more »

Here Come the Shrubs: Rising Temps Allow Woody Plants to Encroach on Barrier Islands

As temperatures rise in many regions around the world, plant species whose ranges were previously limited by low temperature thresholds and intolerance to freezing are increasingly able to expand into new areas and possibly overtake established vegetation regimes. On Hog Island, an undeveloped barrier island off the coast of Virginia, a group of LTER researchers… Read more »

A Changing Climate Drives Change in Ecological Modeling

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 »

Hurricane Disturbances May Increase Resilience in Wet Tropical Forests

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 »

The Devil’s in the Details for Kelp Forest Biodiversity

fish swimming through giant kelp forest

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 »

Sea Level Rise Making Things Saltier in the Everglades

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 »