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News Release 17-011

Scientists present El Niņo, other long-term ecological research results at annual aquatic sciences meeting

Topics include effects of the 2015-16 El Niņo, carbon burial in aquatic ecosystems, pharmaceuticals in streams

At NSF's Santa Barbara Coastal LTER site, a scuba diver records data on giant kelp growth.

At NSF's Santa Barbara Coastal LTER site, a scuba diver records data on giant kelp growth.

February 3, 2017

The ecological effects of the strong 2015-2016 El Niño. Carbon burial in aquatic ecosystems. The presence of pharmaceuticals in streams.

These are just a few of the topics scientists affiliated with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network will discuss at the upcoming Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO) annual meeting, Feb. 27 to March 3.

Researchers funded by NSF's Division of Ocean Sciences, Division of Environmental Biology and Office of Polar Programs conduct research at 25 NSF LTER sites around the world, including in aquatic ecosystems such as coral reefs, seagrass beds and salt marshes. LTER scientists study the factors driving environmental change, and map the potential ecosystem responses that could result.

Their presentations at ASLO will address social and ecological changes; ecosystem vulnerability, resilience and adaptability; and why long-term data are essential to understanding and predicting future responses to natural and human-caused environmental changes.

A special session will bring researchers together to report on the effects of the El Niño of 2015-2016, among the strongest environmental events on record in the Pacific Ocean. El Niño affected species from tropical coral reefs to northern plankton communities. The results offer insights into the future responses of marine ecosystems to such events.

Links to these and other NSF LTER presentations at ASLO are listed below. The meeting will be held in Honolulu.

For more on NSF LTER research results, please see NSF LTER Discovery Article Series.

Monday, Feb. 27

Abiotic Alteration of a Common Biochemical Confers Some of the Structural Complexity Observed in Refractory Dissolved Organic Matter

Trait-Based Approach to Food-Web Interactions Across Environmental Gradients

Effects of Algal Biofilm Patchiness on Boundary Layer Hydrodynamics

Tuesday, Feb. 28

Characterizing Temporal and Spatial Ecosystem Variability with Objectively Defined Biomes in a Twenty-Plus Year Time Series from the West Antarctic Peninsula

Shifting Long-Term Biogeochemical Baselines: Enhanced Marine Connectivity Increases Nutrient Availability in Coastal Wetland Ecosystems

Diel Changes in Mesozooplankton Vertical Microstructure and Implications for Predation and Carbon Cycling: Views from a Zooglider

Wednesday, March 1

Challenges of Connectivity Within Urban Landscapes: Examples from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study

Leveraging Contextual Data to Improve Machine-Learning Classifications of Marine Zooplankton

Trophic Ecology Variability and Relationship to Recruitment of Larval Northern Anchovy over the Past 50 Years

Thursday, March 2

Drugs in Bugs: PPCPS (Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products) Detected in Stream Food Webs Across an Urban Rural Gradient

Coral Reef Oases in Space and Time

Comparing Modern Carbon Burial in Aquatic Ecosystems

Friday, March 3

Ecological Impacts of El Niño 2015-16

Impact of Nutrient Enrichment on Coral Bleaching, Mortality and Recovery During the 2015-16 El Niño

Response of the California Current Pelagic Ecosystem to El Niño 2015-2016


Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, email:
Peter West, NSF (Polar Regions LTER Sites), (703) 292-7530, email:
Marty Downs, LTER Network, (805) 893-7549, email:

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) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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