RESOURCES: Making Ecological Research Last

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Science  18 Jul 2003:
Vol. 301, Issue 5631, pp. 285
DOI: 10.1126/science.301.5631.285b

Unraveling the workings of an ecosystem and tracking how it changes over time can take decades. That's why the National Science Foundation set up the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Now 23 years old, the LTER Network offers scientists more than 2000 data sets from the project's 24 sites in the United States and Antarctica. LTER locales range from tundra on Alaska's North Slope to kelp forests off the California coast to tall grass prairie in Kansas (right, a satellite view of the Sevilleta LTER site, which straddles the Rio Grande in central New Mexico). The diversity in climate and terrain matches the diversity of available data sets—everything from the feeding habits of anole lizards in Puerto Rico to soil composition in Colorado grassland. Most of the data collections are open, but some require permission from the researcher.

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