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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR CONSERVATION OF WESTERN RANGELANDS

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Long-Term Trends in Ecological Systems: A Basis for Understanding Responses to Global Change

Authors
item Peters, Debra
item Laney, Christine -
item Lugo, Ariel -
item Collins, Scott -
item Driscoll, Charles T -
item Groffman, Peter -
item Grove, Morgan -
item Knapp, Alan -
item Kratz, Timotyhy K -
item Ohman, Marl -
item Waide, Robert -
item Yao, Jin -

Submitted to: Agricultural Research Service Publication
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2011
Publication Date: November 20, 2013
Citation: Peters, D.C., Laney, C.M., Lugo, A.E., Collins, S.L., Driscoll, C., Groffman, P.M., Grove, M., Knapp, A.K., Kratz, T., Ohman, M., Waide, R.B., Yao, J. 2013. Long-Term Trends in Ecological Systems: A Basis for Understanding Responses to Global Change. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Technical Bulletin Number 1931. 378 p.

Interpretive Summary: The EcoTrends Editorial Committee sorted through vast amounts of historical and ongoing data from 50 ecological sites in the continental United States including Alaska, several islands, and Antarctica to present in a logical format the variables commonly collected. This report presents a subset of data and variables from these sites and illustrates through detailed examples the value of comparing long-term data from different ecosystem types. This work provides cross-site comparisons of ecological responses to global change drivers, as well as long-term trends in global change drivers and responses at site and continental scales. Site descriptions and detailed data also are provided in the appendix sections. Long-term ecological research within the United States dates back to 1902, when areas were set-aside as research centers. By 1980, when the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program was established, 78 experimental forests and more than 10 rangeland research stations had been conducting research, in most cases for more than 40 years. This suite of sites supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), including 26 LTER sites, represents a wide range of ecosystem types, including forests, grasslands and shrublands, and freshwater lakes and streams, near coastal marine areas and estuaries, urban areas, and arctic, alpine, and antarctic systems. A variety of different kinds of data have been collected from these sites through time, ranging from primarily climatic and human demographic data since the 1800s to more recent quantitative monitoring of plant, animal and microbial populations and communities, hydrological and biogeochemical cycles, biodiversity, and disturbance regimes. However, for the most part, these data have not been easily accessible to others. The EcoTrends project began in 2004, when two scientists (D. Peters and A. Lugo) saw a need to synthesize and make easily accessible long-term datasets in order to compare continental-scale and national-level trends in ecological responses to changing environmental drivers. Considerable time and effort was invested by scientists, information managers, and technical staff at every site to locate the data, verify data quality and quantity, and provide the data and metadata in standard formats. A group of technical consultants assisted in data standardization and accessibility issues needed for website development and for use by a broad community. This book and the associated website contain a small subset of data and variables from 50 ecological sites in the United States. More variables, datasets, and sites will be needed in the future to meet our goals.

Technical Abstract: The Eco Trends Editorial Committee sorted through vast amounts of historical and ongoing data from 50 ecological sites in the continental United States including Alaska, several islands, and Antarctica to present in a logical format the variables commonly collected. This report presents a subset of data and variables from these sites and illustrates through detailed examples the value of comparing long-term data from different ecosystem types. This work provides cross-site comparisons of ecological responses to global change drivers, as well as long-term trends in global change drivers and responses at site and continetal scales. Site descriptions and detailed data also are provided in the appendix sections.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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