Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Long-term trends in ecological systems: an introduction to cross-site comparisons and relevance to global change studies

item Peters, Debra - Deb
item Laney, Christine
item Lugo, Ariel
item Collins, Scott
item Driscoll, Charles
item Groffman, Peter
item Grove, J. Morgan
item Knapp, Alan
item Kratz, Timothy
item Ohman, Mark
item Waide, Robert
item Yao, Jin

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/15/2011
Publication Date: 11/20/2013
Citation: Peters, D.C., Laney, C.M., Lugo, A.E., Collins, S.L., Driscoll, C.T., Groffman, P.M., Grove, J., Knapp, A.K., Kratz, T.K., Ohman, M., Waide, R.B., Yao, J. 2013. Long-term trends in ecological systems: An introduction to cross-site comparisons and relevance to global change studies. In: Peters, D.P.C., Laney, C.M., Lugo, A.E., et al., editors. 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. p. 1-20.

Interpretive Summary: The chapter briefly explains the importance of long-term data to ecological studies, and lists the available long-term ecological data sets. It points out the limitations in the current way of organizing and utilizing multi-site long term data. It explains that the book and its accompanying web page ( represent initial steps in the process of understanding data requirements and developing standards for long-term datasets for cross-site studies. The two purposes of the book are 1) to illustrate the importance of long-term data in comparing dynamics across sites and in providing the context for understanding ecological dynamics of relevance to society, and (2) to present long-term ecological data from different sources and a large number of sites in a common format that is easily understood and used by a broad audience. The audience of the book includes general public, land managers, students, educators, and scientists. Fifty ecological research sites in North America, Antarctica, and French Polynesia are selected to represent six ecosystem types common globally. Thirty-seven variables are selected to characterize either a global change driver (climate, precipitation and stream water chemistry, human demographics) or a biotic response to drivers, primarily by plants and animals. The five parts of the book are laid out.

Technical Abstract: This chapter explains the importance of long-term data to ecological studies and the needs of creating a way to provide accessible and comparable multi-site long-term data. The Earth’s environment is changing in many ways at local, regional, and global scales. Dramatic changes have occurred in climate, land cover, and habitat availability over the past several centuries. Long-term data (> 10 years) are needed to assess the rate and direction of change, to distinguish directional trends in these changes (e.g., persistent increases or decreases) from short-term variability (e.g., multi-year cycles), and to forecast environmental conditions in the future. It also sets up the stage for the rest of the chapters in the book, presenting the purposes, audience and practical applications of the book, explaining how the study sites, variables, and data sets are selected, and how the data are presented and analyzed, and laying out the organization of the book.

Last Modified: 10/15/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page