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LTER stands for “long term ecological research” and involves research and analysis conducted on ecological issues that exist for large periods of time and occupy vast geographical areas. A network of 6 LTER sites was created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1980 to help document and analyze ecological change over an extensive amount of time. The number of LTER sites has now grown to 26, spanning from Alaska to the Caribbean, with two additional sites in Antarctica.
Andrews Experimental Forest:USDA USFS, Oregon State University Arctic LTER site: University of Alaska Baltimore Ecosystem Study: USDA USFS, University of Maryland Bonanza Creek: USDA USFS, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Boreal Ecology Cooperative Research Unit California Current: University of California, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve: University of Minnesota Central Arizona-Phoenix: Arizona State University Coweeta: USDA USFS, University of Georgia Florida CoastalEverglades: Florida International University Georgia Coastal Ecosystems: University of Georgia Marine Institute Harvard Forest: USDA USFS, US Environmental Protection Agency, Harvard University Hubbard Brook: USDA USFS Jornada Basin: USDA ARS, New Mexico State University Kellogg Biological Station: Michigan State University Konza Prairie: The Nature Conservancy, Kansas State University Luquillo: McMurdo Dry Valleys: Moorea Coral Reef: University of California Santa Barbara, California State University Northridge NIwot Ridge: University of Colorado at Boulder North Temperate Lakes: Center for Limnology Palmer Antarctica: Columbia University Santa Barbara Coastal LTER: University of California Santa Barbara, Marine Science Institute Sevilleta: The University of New Mexico, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Shortgrass Steppe: USDA USFS Pawnee National Grassland, USDA ARS, Colorado State University, Central Plains Experimental Range, Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station Virginia Coast Reserve: University of Virginia, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, the Nature Conservancy
All sites are supported by the National Science Foundation.
The information gained from LTER research can benefit the health, productivity, and well-being of the global environment. Specifically, the information helps predict future biological responses to change, provide additional data on important issues such as climate change, and makes evaluation of the pace on ecological change possible. Examples would include data about human impacts on land, such as with the research being done in the Andrews Forest LTER in the Pacific Northwest, where thousands of acres of old-growth forest were cut down in the past for timber production. At this site, data is being collected on how the forest is recovering from the cutdown by looking at the stages of tree structure, vegetation composition and spatial heterogeneity of the forest. Another example is of the research being done in Alaska at the Arctic LTER site. At this site, data is being collected on the shrinking amount of permafrost due to rising global temperatures and how this affects the global atmosphere, since permafrost holds massive amounts of carbon.
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