History of Long-Term Ecology Research

The latest HRC newsletter (April 2020) offers a look back in recognition of the 40th anniversary of LTER programming. Here’s the introduction:
The Long-Term Ecological Research Program turns Forty
2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Initially described as a “pilot project” and an “experiment,” the program started modestly with only six sites in 1980, to which five more were added after a year. By 1987 five more sites joined the program, and three more in 1988, although two of the original sites were withdrawn in 1988. Some ecologists were unsure whether the program was a good idea, but NSF had high ambitions for its experiment. Research at these sites, it was hoped, would partly build on the biome studies conducted during the International Biological Program (1967-1974), but would take ecology to the next level of predictive, ecosystem-level science. Unsurprisingly, several early LTER projects did build directly on those biome studies, which focused on coniferous and deciduous forests, grasslands, deserts, and tundra. The LTER program now includes 26 sites, three of which were in the original group that began the program. A Symposium planned for the annual meeting in Salt Lake City will examine the scientific accomplishments of the LTER program.

The 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day also prompts reflections on the changes in ecology, and in the Ecological Society of America, over the past half century. We invite your participation in a symposium at the upcoming annual meeting, “Earth Day Plus Fifty,” featuring talks by Jane Lubchenco and Hal Mooney, Ann Bartuska, Margaret Palmer, and Laura Petes.