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Long Term Ecological Research

Long Term Ecological Research NSF Niwot Ridge LTER Site

About NSF's Long Term Ecological Research Program

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. This research is located at specific sites chosen to represent major ecosystem types or natural biomes. It emphasizes the study of ecological phenomena over long periods of time. Long-term studies are essential to achieve an integrated understanding of how populations, communities and other components of ecosystems interact as well as to test ecological theory.

LTER Discoveries

Part 1: Stability and diversity in ecosystems
Scientists say focus on stability

Part 2: Life underground critical to Earth's ecosystems
Scientists travel 'down the rabbit hole' for new view of subterranean biodiversity

Part 3: New view of undersea giant kelp forest "canopy"-- from satellites above
Marine scientists discover wave disturbance, nutrient levels affect California giant kelp growth

Part 4: Alligator commuters: Gators' travels link freshwater and marine ecosystems
Florida alligators travel upstream and downstream between marshes and the coast

Part 5: Trouble in paradise: Ocean acidification this way comes
Sustainability of tropical corals in question, but some species developing survival mechanisms

Part 6: Out of Africa and into the American Midwest
Last of the oak savannas survives at NSF Cedar Creek Long-Term Ecological Research site

Part 7: Cry me a river: Following a watershed's winding path to sustainability
National Science Foundation "Water, Sustainability and Climate" award fosters new view of urban rivers, lakes

Part 8: Long-term ecological research reveals causes and consequences of environmental change
New insights as NSF Long Term Ecological Research Network reflects on three decades of science

Part 9: Acid rain: Scourge of the past or trend of the present?
New connection between climate change and acidification of Northeast's forests and streams

Part 10: Tropical reefs surviving environmental stresses: Corals' choice of symbiotic algae may hold the key
Corals that host fewer species of algae are less sensitive to disturbances

Part 11: The colors of fall: Are autumn reds and golds passing us by?
Climate change, land-use change, introduced pests and diseases altering fall foliage

Part 12: Earth Week: The search for white gold -- snowmelt
Thin snowpack puts ecosystems and water resources in critical condition

Part 13: Earth Day in the future: What will it be like?
Scientists peer into the next decades of environmental change on Planet Earth

Part 14: World Oceans Day: 12 things to know about El Niño: Is it coming, and when?
How will it affect coastal species--and the fish on our dinner tables?

Part 15: How much fertilizer is too much for Earth's climate?
Helping farmers around the globe combat greenhouse gas emissions and climate change

Part 16: A river runs through it: U.S. cities' waterways show consistent patterns of evolution
Urban waters record salt in food, cement in sidewalks

Part 17: Drylands: Desolate, scorched, uninhabitable? Scientists say otherwise
Complex ecosystem is patchwork of grasses, shrubs, agricultural fields, urban-dwelling species, including humans

Part 18: As Massachusetts ecosystems shrink, hard-working "hotspots" emerge
Researchers call hotspots valuable, but say their growing numbers might be cause for concern

Part 19: Morticulture: Forests of the living dead
Scientists unearth importance of dead wood to forest ecosystems

Part 20: Colorado high peaks losing glaciers as climate warms
Ice disappears faster in drought years

Part 21: New land-use strategies can reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Improved land-use practices needed as strategies for lowering greenhouse gases

Part 22: Changing salt marsh conditions send resident microbes into dormancy
Over time, nutrients such as nitrogen affect important marsh bacteria

Part 23: Like hurricanes, unseasonable cold spells wipe out subtropical species
Extreme climate events leave areas vulnerable

Part 24: Everglades mangroves' carbon storage capacity worth billions
Scientists say preserving mangroves worth the cost

Part 25: NSF announces new Long-Term Ecological Research sites off Alaska, New England coasts
Scientists will expand research on ocean food webs in ecosystems that include recreational and commercial fisheries

Part 26: NSF-funded scientists to present on long-term ecological research findings at AGU fall meeting
Research topics range from kelp forest changes and life in ice to Midwest rainfall and crops

Part 27: NSF awards $5.6 million to establish new arctic Long-Term Ecological Research site
Researchers with Alaska's Beaufort Sea LTER site will study diverse species important to both commercial and subsistence fisheries

Part 28: World Environment Day: What does the future hold for Earth's ecosystems?
From coast to coast, signs of pressure -- and of hope

Part 29: Boom times for fish populations in Wisconsin lakes
Research shows surprising conclusions about fish numbers

Part 30: Polar glaciers may be home to previously undiscovered carbon cycle
Research in Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys indicates that microbes are a source of organic material

Part 31: Decomposing leaves are surprising source of greenhouse gases
Scientists find new source of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas

Part 32: World Oceans Day: How do snook survive cold spells in Everglades waters? By heading for the depths
An animal's location at any given moment could be the difference between life and death

Part 33: Can an ancient ocean shoreline set the stage for a tropical forest of today?
Researchers at NSF Critical Zone Observatory and Long-Term Ecological Research sites are finding out.

Part 34: Is the coast clear? Not in many beachfront areas
Marine scientists evaluate coastal armoring and its ecological effects

Part 35: Laser mapping project shows effects of physical changes in Antarctica's Dry Valleys
Maps can be compared to similar observations made 13 years ago to observe changes

Part 36: Cometh the devil weed. What's the best way to slay it?
Ecologists compare methods of removing an unwelcome intruder

Part 37: After the 2016 El Niño, coral reefs in Moorea are thriving -- why?
Long-term studies at reef research site important to new findings

Part 38: A fresh look at fresh water: Researchers create a 50,000-lake database
Provides information on lakes in 17 U.S. Northeastern and upper Midwestern states

Part 39: Alligators, rulers of the swamps, link marine and freshwater ecosystems
’Gators follow the tides to find food, ferrying nutrients as they go

Part 40: NSF-funded scientists to present on long-term ecological research findings at AGU fall meeting
Reports on results of hurricane experiments; resiliency of arctic ecosystems; factors influencing drought

Part 41: Winter road salt, fertilizers turning North American waterways increasingly saltier
New findings show need for better regulation of road salt, fertilizers and other salty compounds

Part 42: Blame it on the rain: Study ties phosphorus loading in lakes to extreme precipitation events
Results in toxic algae blooms, dead zones and declining water quality in U.S. waterways

Part 43: Race across the tundra: White spruce vs. snowshoe hare
Tortoise and hare tale replaying in Alaska’s far north

Part 44: “Understanding Our Ocean Connections”: NSF symposium highlights links among people and marine ecosystems
Long-Term Ecological Research symposium takes place on April 19, just before Earth Day

Part 45: Where's the greatest risk of a mosquito bite in Baltimore? A surprising answer
Neighborhoods with median incomes have the highest bite frequency

Part 46: Giant kelp switches diet when key nutrient becomes scarce
Kelp uses an alternate form of dissolved nitrogen to grow

Part 47: Hurricanes lead to resilience: Good news follows bad for Puerto Rico's tropical forests
Study at NSF research sites leads to new conclusions about hurricane effects

Part 48: Are our lawns biological deserts?
Research shows decline in biodiversity of suburban ecosystems

Part 49: Summer monsoon rains benefit underground aquifers of the desert Southwest
Monsoon brings torrents of water that recharge groundwater aquifers

Part 50: Scientists to present new long-term ecological research findings at fall American Geophysical Union meeting
NSF-funded researchers will delve into the hidden realms of ice-covered lakes, deep soil processes, plant roots

Part 51: Increasing frequency of ocean storms alters kelp forest ecosystems
The loss of kelp forests from destructive storms decreases habitat for species like this kelp crab.

Part 52: The flip side of a reef: Coral, seaweed -- or both?
Tropical reefs can host coral and seaweed communities under the same conditions

Part 53: When coral reefs change, researchers and local fishing communities see different results
Groups perceive environmental disruptions in varying ways

Part 54: Phoenix is losing birds, but homeowners' plants offer habitat for avian desert-dwellers
Scientists study long-term impact of urbanization on bird species biodiversity

Part 55: Want to increase local employment? Conserve the land, scientists say
Study reveals employment benefits of New England land conservation over 25-year-period

Part 56: Research helps farmers pinpoint high-and low-yield fields, leads to better use of fertilizer
Findings reduce excess nutrients making their way into rivers, streams, groundwater