In every major biome in the United States, from Oregon’s old growth to Florida’s Everglades, there is a special place where scientists are getting the long view of nature – the changes that occur, their impacts, and what it all means for the benefits these ecosystems provide to people. These sites together, 28 of them in all, form the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network, and NCEAS is thrilled to announce it was chosen to operate its organizational hub, the LTER Network Office, for the next five years.
On the eve of the Network’s 40th anniversary in 2020, the National Science Foundation has awarded UC Santa Barbara a $4.3 million, five-year cooperative agreement to operate the LTER Network Office through NCEAS. The Network Office will organize scientific synthesis, communication, training, and education activities across the sites and facilitate interaction with the broader ecological and Earth science communities.
“We depend on the Network Office to coordinate and help synthesize work by hundreds of scientists across the country, all working on projects that span decades and tackle practically all the biggest questions in ecology,” said Douglas Levey, a program officer with the National Science Foundation.
The Network Office will operate out of NCEAS, where it has been for the past four years, to continue capitalizing on the center’s expertise in and infrastructure for conducting collaborative synthesis research, training researchers in data science, and communicating results.
"NCEAS and the LTER Network Office are ideal partners for accelerating cross-site LTER research and synthesis,” said Frank Davis, executive director of the Network Office and a professor at UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. “Together we are helping to connect a global community of ecologists concerned with advancing the science of ecology and its application to environmental policy and management.”
Each LTER site is host to an interdisciplinary team of scientists who tackle questions about its ecosystems that require sustained observation and experimentation – for example, impacts or adaptations associated with climate or land-use changes. The insights gained are well positioned to inform the management of those ecosystems.
"LTER programs attract an amazing constellation of researchers, students, and stakeholders, and the Network Office keeps the information and ideas flowing among them,” said Marty Downs, director of the Network Office. “The stability that NSF offers through the LTER program gives them a chance to build lasting relationships with resource managers and educators, so that their science goes straight to work.”
As the nexus of synthesis research within LTER, the Network Office enables researchers to compare insights from across the sites, widening the lens on how ecosystems work under a variety of conditions and, thus, deepening our understanding of the natural world and humanity’s influence on it.
“There aren't many opportunities for urban ecologists and oceanographers to compare notes, and sometimes the cross-pollination generates really new ideas," said Downs.
The Network recently issued a call for proposals for new synthesis working groups with a deadline of October 23rd.