Putting the “urban” in disturbance: Applying ecological frameworks to cities

The concept of “disturbance” is a core theme of the LTER Network and central to ecological science. How does the idea of disturbance need to change when applied to the interactions of an urban metropolitan region rather than a “natural” system? Ecologists often consider the process of urbanization itself to be a form of disturbance, but that is a habit that has to change, say the authors of a recent paper in Ecosystem Health and Sustainability. People, technology, and infrastructure have to be defined as part of the system when studying cities, they say.

Chronic Nitrogen Enrichment Slows Fungal Action

Fungi, often spotted in cold, damp locations, are responsible for decomposing the plant litter that falls to forest floors, enriching soils. Without fungi, dead plant material would inundate ecosystems and overwhelm other organisms. What would happen, then, if anthropogenic nitrogen altered the fungi’s ability to perform this vital ecosystem function? A recent study capitalized on a 28-year nitrogen enrichment experiment at the Harvard Forest LTER site in north-central Massachusetts to find out.  As nitrogen inputs to a system increase, researchers found, fungal decomposition slowed.

How Will Climate Change Affect Peak Firefly Activity?

A typical warm summer night is complemented with the familiar glow of fireflies and the light spectacle they create darting around and lighting up the night sky. However, the timing of these light shows might be affected by environmental changes. In order to better understand the life history of the firefly, researchers from the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) LTER investigated the phenological patterns of fireflies from 2004-2015 to determine what explains the variability observed in their mating season.

Invasive Earthworms and Their Effects on Midwestern Soils

As ecosystem dynamics change with warming global temperatures, researchers have begun investigating the potential of further northward invasions from nonnative species like the Asian earthworm. Past studies have shown that nonnative earthworms can significantly alter ecosystem functioning, and this experiment confirms that Asian earthworms can do as much—if not more—damage as their better-researched European counterparts…. Read more »

2017 ASLO ABSTRACTS

logo from ASLO ocean science meeting 2017

From February 26-March 3, The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) will hold its annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawai`i. The LTER Network sites will deliver oral and poster presentations on a wide range of topics, from blue carbon in salt marshes to impacts of the Eastern Pacific “warm blob” and El Niño. In… Read more »

ILTER Nitrogen Initiative 2016 Update

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The ILTER Nitrogen Initiative had a very good year in 2016. Hideaki Shibata, who leads the Nitrogen Initiative for ILTER, provided the following update. The Initiative produced many interactive activities, an international training course, publications, and firmed up links to other programs. The leaders of the Initiative truly appreciate the engagement, cooperation, and contributions of… Read more »

Are We Making Selfish Microbes?

Some bacteria become less cooperative with their plant hosts under long-term nutrient additions, finds new research by Jen Lau, an ecologist at the Kellogg Biological Station (KBS) LTER, and her collaborator Katy Heath at the University of Illinois. “A decade ago, no one was thinking about the idea of rapid evolution—the kind you could see… Read more »

2016 AGU Abstracts

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From December 12-16, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) will hold its annual meeting. The LTER Network sites will be well represented with a total of 113 presentations and posters. LTER-related presentations have been organized below by day and time. Please excuse any omissions or misattributions. We will continue to add to and adjust this list up… Read more »

Global Perspectives Yield New Insight, Connections

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The first Open Science Meeting of the International LTER Network (ILTER) network gathered over 300 participants in Kruger National Park, South Africa to present their latest results, network, and explore next steps for the growing organization. The meeting, which took place from 9-13 October, 2016, offered a balanced mix of scientific talks, poster sessions, workshops,… Read more »