NSF Forum: The Globalization of Long Term Ecological Research
Scientists conduct long-term studies of Earth's ecosystems through international collaborations
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.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
Useful NSF Web Sites: