Long Term Ecological Research LTER 1980 wwwlternetedu httpecosystems mbleduARC

In 1980, the National Science Foundation established the LTER program to support research on long-term ecological phenomena in the United States. The LTER network is a collaborative effort investigating ecological processes over long temporal and broad spatial scales. The network promotes synthesis and comparative research across sites and ecosystems and among other related national and international research programs.

The Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research (ARC-LTER) project is one of 24 LTER projects in North America, Puerto Rico, and Antarctica. The Arctic LTER's field research site is based at the University of Alaska's Toolik Field Station, Alaska. The goal of the Arctic LTER project is to predict the future ecological characteristics of the site based upon our knowledge of the controls of ecosystem structure and function as exerted by physical and geologic factors, climatic factors, biotic factors, and the changes in fluxes of water and materials from land to water. To achieve this goal, the Arctic LTER uses several approaches:

• Long-term monitoring and surveys of natural variation of ecosystem characteristics in space and time. This includes climate, plant communities and productivity, thaw depth, stream flow, chemistry of streams and lakes, temperatures of streams and lakes, lake chlorophyll lake productivity, and zooplankton abundance.

• Experimental manipulation of ecosystems for years and decades. This includes tundra warming, shading, and fertilizing, grazer exclusions, fertilization of lakes and streams, and addition and subtraction of predators.

• Synthesis of results and predictive modeling at ecosystem and watershed scales. This includes stream nitrogen cycling, lake physics, bioener-getics of fish populations, water movement, and transfer of DOC (dissolved organic carbon) and nutrients from land to water, soil respiration, cycling, and storage of carbon in tundra under different scenarios of future climates.

This program has produced extremely valuable information on the biodiversity of Arctic terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, and how this changes over time under both natural conditions and after experimental manipulations of various factors that affect diversity. The goal and approaches of LTER have now been accepted in many countries and this has led to the development of the ILTER, although the Arctic component of this is not yet developed.

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