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Media Advisory 13-001

NSF Forum: The Globalization of Long Term Ecological Research

Scientists conduct long-term studies of Earth's ecosystems through international collaborations

Fire moves through grasslands at NSF's Konza Prairie LTER Site in Kansas

LTER Artwork: Fire moves through grasslands at NSF's Konza Prairie LTER Site in Kansas.

February 11, 2013

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Deserts and forests, grasslands, lakes and rivers. Over the past 33 years, long-term ecological research has been conducted at a network of National Science Foundation (NSF) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites in these and other ecosystems.

NSF's LTER network has an international sister effort. The ILTER, or International Long Term Ecological Research network, is a global consortium of long-term research programs. This year, it marks its 20th anniversary.

In recognition of that milestone, NSF's annual LTER mini-symposium, held this year on Feb. 28, 2013, at NSF headquarters, will highlight the global reach of long-term ecological research.

Presentations will feature international successes in long-term ecological research, information management and education.

NSF established its LTER program in 1980 to address ecological questions that can't be answered by short-term observations or experiments.

Research is now carried out at 26 NSF LTER sites in polar, tropical, marine, continental, desert, grassland, urban and agricultural and high alpine ecosystems.

Through the ILTER, that research spans the globe. The network of international long-term ecological research is supported by forty countries.

U.S. scientists and their international partners contribute to research on socio-ecological issues through site-based long term research projects and cross-site data syntheses.

At the mini-symposium, Byron Adams of the McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER site in Antarctica will address expanding coordination of long-term ecological research with scientists supported by New Zealand, Italy, Australia and Korea. The expanded network will increase the ability to measure environmental change in the Dry Valleys ecosystem and to assess how well environmental stewardship and management policies are working.

Mark Williams of Colorado's Niwot Ridge LTER site and scientists affiliated with the Italian ILTER program have begun a research program on climate change, retreating Himalayan glaciers and water security in Asia. Williams will discuss the group's efforts.

John Porter of the Virginia Coast Reserve LTER site will focus on making long-term data globally accessible.

Saleit Ron, from LTER Israel, will talk about the LTER Schoolyard Program that was initiated in Israel. It's been adopted by teachers in Oregon, in collaboration with the LTER Schoolyard Program at Oregon's H.J. Andrews LTER site.

LTER-ILTER collaborations begin in grade school. Through the LTER Schoolyard Program, K-12 grade students in the U.S. develop international connections with students in other countries.

An "Ecological Reflections" art exhibit, located in NSF's third floor exhibition area, will accompany the mini-symposium. The exhibit opens at 4 p.m. on Feb. 28, 2013, with a talk by Frederick Swanson of Oregon State University: "Ecological Reflections: A Sense of Place in Changing Places."

The exhibit showcases the works of 39 artists. All were created through artist-scientist collaborations at NSF LTER sites.

Fiber arts, paintings, drawings, sculpture, song, photography, short films and poetry make up the exhibit. It will be on display at NSF from Feb. 28 through June 15, 2013.


LTER Scientists


Mini-symposium on the Globalization of Long Term Ecological Research


Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, 8.30 a.m. to 12 p.m.


National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110, Arlington, VA 22230

Detailed Agenda:

8.30 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks - Saran Twombly, NSF Division of Environmental Biology
8.45 a.m. International LTER (ILTER): Past, Present, and Future - Jim Gosz (University of Idaho) & Kristin Vanderbilt (University of New Mexico and Sevilleta LTER Site)
9.10 a.m. Establishing the International Mountain LTER Network - Mark Williams (University of Colorado and Niwot Ridge LTER Site)
9.35 a.m. Expanding Dimensions in Landscape Agroecological Research: an ILTER Cross-site Collaboration - Megan Woltz (Michigan State University and Kellogg Biological Station LTER Site)
10.00 a.m. A Joint Schoolyard ILTER Project for Students in Israel and the U.S. - Saleit Ron (Ramat Hanadiv Nature Park, Israel LTER, Israel)
10.25 a.m. Break
10.40 a.m. The McMurdo Dry Valleys Terrestrial Observation Network: An International Effort to Coordinate Scientific Measurements, Data Management, and Environmental Stewardship - Byron Adams (Brigham Young University and McMurdo Dry Valleys LTER Site)
11.05 a.m. ILTER Information Management Collaborations - John Porter (University of Virginia and Virginia Coastal Reserve LTER Site)
11.30 a.m. A Focus on Tropical Systems: ILTER Research Highlights from the Florida Coastal Everglades - Tiffany Troxler (Florida International University and Florida Coastal Everglades LTER Site)


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2021 budget of $8.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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