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LTER Key Research Findings

Among the many research results from LTER sites, some findings stand out as being particularly important to achieve the LTER goal of providing information to conserve, protect, and manage the nation's ecosystems. Short descriptions of key findings at each site emphasize the importance of long-term data in understanding the pace and pattern of ecological change.

Envisioning the Future (HFR LTER)
We are living in times of rapid social and environmental change. Scientists and policy makers urgently require analyses of multiple interacting processes in order to anticipate and adapt to future global change. Understanding future environmental change will require new approaches to synthesizing ecological and social sciences. This is no easy task. The study of coupled human and natural systems...
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Foundation Species Matter (HFR LTER)
We are currently living through the sixth great extinction crisis in the Earth’s history. Ecologists and evolutionary biologists have documented that the unprecedented and rapidly accelerating loss of non-human species is the direct result of human activities: habitat conversion, over-consumption of resources, and worldwide introductions -- both deliberate and accidental -- of pests and pathogens...
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Old Forests Store Carbon (HFR LTER)
Terrestrial ecosystems, especially mid-latitude forests, are accumulating carbon (2.6 Pg-C y-1) that would otherwise contribute to increasing atmospheric CO2. CO2 fertilization, forest regrowth, climate variability, and increased nutrient inputs are potential factors. Ecological theory suggests that forests older than about a century should approach equilibrium and no longer be significant carbon...
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The Power of Invasives (HFR LTER)
Harvard Forest researchers have transformed the scientific understanding of biological invasion by discovering that non-native plants can disrupt the longstanding ecological relationship between native tree seedlings and their beneficial fungi by releasing chemicals belowground. With native plants suppressed, the exotic plants are able to invade forests more aggressively. The impacts of...
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