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Division of Ocean Sciences

Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) New Site Competition

Name Email Phone Room
Saran  Twombly (703) 292-8133   
David  L. Garrison (703) 292-7588   


Solicitation  16-509

Important Information for Proposers

A revised version of the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) (NSF 22-1), is effective for proposals submitted, or due, on or after October 4, 2021. Please be advised that, depending on the specified due date, the guidelines contained in NSF 22-1 may apply to proposals submitted in response to this funding opportunity.




NSF currently supports 25 LTER research sites and, through this solicitation, invites proposals to establish three (3) new LTER sites. Research proposals should address questions in one of two broad ecosystems:

  • Arid/semi-arid ecosystems: The Division of Environmental Biology (DEB) anticipates support and management of one (1) new site with a focus on arid or semi-arid ecosystems. The location of the research site for proposals submitted to develop a new arid/semi-arid ecosystem LTER must be within the United States, including its territories and protectorates.
  • Ocean/coastal ocean ecosystems: The Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE) anticipates support and management of two (2) new sites that focus on ocean or coastal ocean ecosystems; defined as ecological systems from the shoreline outward on continental shelves and including the Laurentian Great Lakes, Congressionally defined as interior oceans. Preference will be given to proposals developing a new ocean/coastal ocean ecosystem LTER site located within the United States, including its territories and protectorates, but other locations are not precluded.

To address ecological questions that cannot be resolved with short-term observations or experiments, NSF established the Long Term Ecological Research Program (LTER) in 1980. Two components differentiate LTER research from projects supported by other NSF programs: 1) the research is located at specific sites chosen to represent major ecosystem types or natural biomes; and 2) it emphasizes the study of ecological phenomena over long periods of time based on data collected in five core areas. The five core areas of long-term data collection are: 1) patterns and controls of primary production, 2) spatial and temporal population dynamics and food web interactions, 3) patterns and controls of organic matter accumulation and decomposition, 4) patterns of inorganic inputs and movements of nutrients, and 5) patterns and frequency of disturbances. The LTER program provides a unique opportunity for researchers to obtain an integrated, holistic understanding of ecosystems that is not possible through individual, short-term awards.

Research at LTER sites must test important, current ecological theories and significantly advance understanding of the long-term dynamics of populations, communities and ecosystems. It often integrates multiple disciplines and, through cross-site interactions, examines patterns or processes over broad spatial scales. Recognizing that the value of long-term data extends beyond use at any individual site, NSF requires that data collected by all LTER sites be made broadly accessible.

The LTER program is a multi-disciplinary, cross-Foundation effort supported by the Division of Environmental Sciences (DEB), the Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE), and the Division of Polar Programs (PLR).

What Has Been Funded (Recent Awards Made Through This Program, with Abstracts)

Map of Recent Awards Made Through This Program