The vast majority of studies in the ecological literature last less than three years, and only 10% of studies capture unusual events. To detect changes in high mountain ecosystems, long-term research is imperative, as these areas are important bellwethers of global change.
The first Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network was established by the National Science Foundation, USA, in 1980 to support research on long-term ecological phenomena in the United States. Currently, efforts are underway to establish a mountain LTER network worldwide. GMBA will provide the framework and coordination of the new mountain LTER network.
First meeting at Col du Lautaret, France
At the invitation of the international working group on mountain LTER sites, a first meeting was held at the Col du Lautaret LTER site in France, on September 14-16, 2011. The aim was to form a nucleus of core sites that will use common protocols to ensure comparability of data. This network will be able to capture slow processes or transient, episodic or infrequent events, reveal trends, multi-factor responses, or processes with major time lags.
The alpine LTER network will expand beyond a project of individual investigators; the data collected by the network will be publicly available and also analysed and published in peer-reviewed journals. The key to the success of long-term research is considered to be information management. Long-term studies depend on databases that document project history, cross-site studies that require communication among the parties involved and the integration of their data.
Presentations of the first meeting
Meeting at Estes Park, Colorado, USA
During the LTER All Scientists Meeting in September 2012, a mountain LTER session took place at the meeting of the working group Resilience and Sustainability of Complex Mountain Landscapes. The mountain LTER network was presented in a talk by Laszlo Nagy.
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Meeting in Aosta Valley, Italy
Following the conference Mountains under Watch 2013, a mountain LTER workshop was held in February 2013. Thematic working groups discussed possibilities for future common works and analyses for different scientific areas and tried to identify the best procedures for testing common protocols to ensure comparability of results from different sites.