Early diagnosis: Spatial warning signs of ecological tipping points

Researchers at the North Temperate Lakes (NTL) LTER site have capitalized on the utility of Peter and Paul experimental lakes in northern Michigan in order to improve predictions of ecological tipping points in lake ecosystems. Their two-year study analyzes changes in the lakes’ spatial characteristics, and identifies statistical patterns in those characteristics as potential predictors of ecological… Read more »

Why smaller oysters? Maybe not Native American shellfishing

Five thousand years ago, Native Americans lived and thrived on Georgia’s coast. Shellfishing, especially the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica), was a significant cultural practice of these coastal Natives Americans. Today, Georgia’s coast is peppered with oyster shell deposits from long-term native American consumption. While studying archaeological shell deposits on Georgia’s coast, researchers with the Georgia Coastal… Read more »

Rethinking everglades restoration through synthesis science

An aerial shot looks over the wetland-ocean interface

Within the science and natural resource management fields, people often say what gets measured gets managed. But in a well studied ecosystem such as the Everglades, how do decades of scientific information get accurately translated into restoration plans? Through the use of synthesis science, researchers from the Florida Coastal Everglades LTER site compiled interdisciplinary data to evaluate… Read more »

Test of Ecological Theory Informs Stream Restoration Choices

Stream running through a field with young trees planted alongside

In the United States, society spends billions of dollars each year on stream restoration. Knowing where restoration efforts are likely to be most effective could help get more restoration-bang for those bucks. A recent study of 13 river restoration projects by investigators from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study LTER found that restoration appeared to be more effective at… Read more »

A Changing Tide: Biodiversity on Sandy Beaches

Pile of kelp fronds on a beach

Credit: Ingrid Taylar. CC BY 2.0To maintain the image of a pristine beach—wide stretches of sand absent of fly-ridden piles of seaweed—managers often add sand to beaches and remove seaweed. This removal may lead to a more enjoyable experience for humans, but it constitutes a major loss of habitat for sandy beach critters, which use… Read more »

Striking a Balance in Private Land Conservation

Credit: Rutebega. CC BY-SA 3.0.In the digital age, while public access to information about parks and public land conservation is readily available, records on private-land conservation remain incomplete and inconsistent. To reveal the reasons behind the gaps in data on private-land conservation, LTER-funded researchers analyzed maps and documents, and conducted interviews focused on four major… Read more »

Wildfire Ponzi Scheme? The Continental Carbon Exchange

Wildfire in Alaskan black spruce forests.

If carbon is currency, wildfires are the brokers; that is, they distribute carbon between land and air. In the short-run, fire emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Over time, it also strengthens subsequent carbon uptake through plant regrowth. This exchange is like a natural Ponzi scheme – the carbon offsets from yesterday’s fires take up today’s emissions…. Read more »

Effects of Plant Colonization on Moss-Dominated Alpine Soils

moss

Credit: Marilylle Soveran CC BY-NC 2.0Moss and lichen make up a large portion of biomass in alpine and arctic ecosystems. With rising global temperatures, vascular plants have begun to colonize these moss-dominated ecosystems, potentially  altering the soil composition and ecosystem function of these unique environments. Researchers with the Niwot Ridge LTER investigated how bacterial composition,… Read more »

Foraging Flexibility of Two Shark Species

Sharks are top predators in marine ecosystems, so small changes in shark populations can ripple down and affect entire marine communities. Understanding how sharks adapt to ecosystem changes may help scientists predict how other marine life could react to a changing ocean. Researchers from the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE) LTER investigated how juveniles of two similar… Read more »

A “Landscape of Fear” May Offer Alternative Pest Control

Credit: Jim, the photographer. CC Y 2.0To reduce the risk of being eaten, prey animals may change their behavior (by staying hidden during certain hours, for example) and adapt physiologically. Although these responses help prey survive in the short-term, they also suppress their ability to move and reproduce. By studying insect responses to the risk… Read more »