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 »

A synthesis to identify how metacommunity dynamics mediate community responses to disturbance across the ecosystems represented in the LTER network

Aerial of Cedar Creek

Metacommunity ecology considers both the local- and regional-scale factors that influence community assembly. Previous work has identified dispersal, niche differentiation, and habitat heterogeneity as crucial parameters that determine metacommunity dynamics and stability in response to disturbance. However, it remains unclear whether the parameter combinations that are predicted to confer stability do so over long time… Read more »

Integrating plant community and ecosystem responses to chronic global change drivers: Toward an explanation of patterns and improved global predictions

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 »

Urban aquatic ecosystems: a synthesis working group proposal

Background and Rationale

Aquatic ecosystems in urban environments are highly modified by human activity, engineering, and design. These systems are critical in delivering ecosystem services to urban residents, who comprise over 80% of the US population. This synthesis working group builds upon two impromptu meetings of interested persons held at the 2012 ASM[1].

Beyond the Numbers: Supporting an increasingly diverse LTER community

Mention “diversity” to most ecologists, and they start talking about species richness. Indeed, LTER leads the way investigating how biodiversity enhances ecosystem productivity, efficiency, and stability. The LTER Network has an opportunity to likewise take a prominent leadership role fostering a diverse scientific community and supporting the full inclusion and participation of all its members.

Soil Biogeochemistry: Synthesis of Past Data and Development of Protocols for a New Long-Term, Network-Wide Data Stream


We request funds for a working group to synthesize existing data within the LTER network on nitrogen mineralization and nitrification, soil respiration and soil moisture and to develop protocols for a new tightly coordinated, network-wide effort to develop a long-term data stream on these variables. The primary activity would be a workshop to be held at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

Linking aquatic and soil organic matter across ecosystems through characterization of optical properties

Background: The range of sites within the LTER network provides an excellent
opportunity to understand aquatic and soil OM (organic matter) dynamics in diverse
ecosystems in order to develop overarching hypotheses about OM dynamics on a larger
scale in the context of the global carbon cycle. Dissolved organic material (DOM) is a major pool of organic carbon in all aquatic ecosystems, has high concentrations in soil interstitial water, and can be transported from soils into aquatic ecosystems.