The Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network is a network of 25 research sites across multiple biomes that have been collecting continuous data for over 36 years. This information has been invaluable for testing big-picture concepts about how ecosystems work. LTER synthesis working groups, made up of scientists from inside and outside the Network, also capitalize upon this data to make comparisons across ecosystems, probe novel theories, and search for insights into how ecological systems work. From a pool of 20 proposals, two new LTER synthesis working groups were selected for 2017.
LTER Synchrony Working Group: Populations of plants, animals, and microbes fluctuate all the time. Whether populations rise and fall in tandem, independently or alternately can affect ecological stability. Offset fluctuations between species can enhance ecosystem stability. Or alternate fluctuations of the same species in different regions can support species stability. Building on many sources of long-term data, this working group, led by Lauren Hallett, Daniel Reuman, and Katharine Suding, aims to understand the drivers and timescales of synchrony and its effect on ecological stability.
Biodiversity and Productivity Working Group: A second group, led by Forest Isbell, Jane M. Cowles, and Laura Dee will draw on experiments and observations from LTER and other global networks to understand how the relationship between biodiversity and productivity changes between experimental plots and large scale ecosystems. The group aims to develop a strategy for scaling-up experimental results to natural communities, which will minimize inaccurate predictions about biodiversity influencers due to the current knowledge gap.
Further information about these working groups can be found on the LTER site.