Cross site investigation using LTER Data.

Synthesizing population and community synchrony to understand drivers of ecological stability across LTER sites

Gammarid amphipod.

Project Summary: Understanding factors that influence ecological stability is a key question in ecology. Population ecology has highlighted that synchrony within a species over space is an important indicator of species stability. Community ecology, in contrast, has highlighted that asynchrony between species within space may enhance the stability of aggregate properties (such as total productivity)…. Read more »

Scaling-Up Productivity Responses to Changes in Biodiversity

experimental plots with a variety of old field species

Project summary: Although hundreds of short-term local experiments indicate that random changes in biodiversity can cause substantial changes in primary productivity, considerable debate remains regarding whether these influences of biodiversity are weaker or stronger at larger spatial and temporal scales in natural ecosystems. Given this knowledge gap, current models often implicitly assume no influence of biodiversity… Read more »

Advancing soil organic matter research: Synthesizing multi-scale observations, manipulations & models

deep soil profile, rich in organic matter, with grain growing on top

Soil organic matter is a massive storehouse for carbon, as well as a key regulator of nutrient cycling and soil quality in terrestrial ecosystems, yet ecology lacks a full understanding of the controls on stabilization and breakdown of soil organic matter. Two sets of competing theories underlie models that adequately predict site-specific dynamics, but result… Read more »

Global Patterns in Stream Energy and Nutrient Cycling

stream running through wetland

Project summary: Dissolved organic matter (DOM) provides a significant source of energy and nutrients to ecosystems and its biogeochemical cycling is inextricably linked to dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN). In stream ecosystems in particular, there is considerable spatial and temporal variation in the relationships between the different fractions of DOM (dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen) and DIN…. Read more »

Integrating plant community and ecosystem responses to chronic global change drivers

Three individuals collecting samples in desert brush.

Project Summary: 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 is also predicted to change in a non-linear fashion. We propose to examine whether plant community dynamics are predictive of shifts in ecosystem function… Read more »

The Influence of Precipitation Variability on Diversity and Composition of North American Grasslands


We propose to organize a working group that will analyze and synthesize long-term data on the relationship between precipitation variability and the structure of North American (NA) grassland plant communities.

This project will build on prior LTER-related synthetic efforts that have evaluated the response of aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP) to precipitation variability [1-2] and the relationships among ANPP, plant community composition and resource availability [3-7] in NA grasslands.

Cross-Site Synthesis between CCE, MCR and SBC: Working group to develop comparative regional ocean modeling effort

We propose a new synthesis effort between the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) LTER, the Mo’orea Coral Reef (MCR) LTER and the Santa Barbara Channel (SBC) LTER to incorporate regional modeling of physical processes around islands in both the tropical Pacific and California Current regions.

While these LTERs are focused on two vastly different oceanic regions, they each contain a number of small islands that interfere with larger-scale ocean circulation by producing wakes, trapped circulation patterns and other island topographic effects.

State Changes and Threshold Dynamics

A four-day workshop will use LTER data, including data from the EcoTrends project, to bridge the gap between the relatively mature theoretical understanding of thresholds and state changes in ecological systems and the emerging empirical databases that allow us to actually test models of state changes.

Many of these changes represent “tipping points” or dramatic changes in the states of the systems, and our workshop will use data from terrestrial, coastal, and open-ocean systems to illustrate common mechanisms underlying state changes and threshold dynamics.

Development of a hydrochemical database – StreamchemDB

We are requesting Synthesis Working Group funds to support LTER participation in StreamchemDB.

StreamchemDB is focused on aquatic chemistry data, and builds on former data synthesis projects ClimDB and HydroDB, all of which have been collaborative LTER-Forest Service cross-site synthesis and cyber-infrastructure projects.