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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 awards grants for four new critical zone observatories to study Earth surface processes
Sites are in Southeast Piedmont; Southwest Idaho; Northern California; and Illinois-Iowa-Minnesota

Part 27: 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 28: 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