Title: LTER Palmer, Antarctica:  Land-Shelf-Ocean Connectivity, Ecosystem Resilience & Transformation in a Sea-Ice Influenced Pelagic Ecosystem

Funding Agency: NSF

Project Lead: Oscar Schofield

Partners:  University of Colorado, University of Delaware, University of California Santa Cruz, Scripps, University of Virginia, VIMS, WHOI

Period of Performance:  01/28/20 – 8/31/21

Total budget:  $1,134,426

Project summary

All ecological populations, communities, and ecosystems face long-term change. Identifying the nature of these changes and the mechanisms driving them requires the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data over long periods of time. To address questions that cannot be resolved with short-term observations or experiments, NSF established the Long-Term Ecological Research Program (LTER). Two components characterize LTER research: 1) it is located at specificsites chosen to represent major biomes or ecosystem types, and 2) it emphasizes the study of phenomena over long periods of time based on data collected in five core areas. Ongoing research at LTER sites provides a unique opportunity for researchers to obtain an integrated, holistic understanding of populations, communities, and ecosystems that is not possible through individual, short-term awards.

More than thirty-five years of LTER research have produced unique and valuable knowledge about ecological change in response to natural and human influences. The disciplinary breadth of LTER research includes population and community ecology, ecosystem science, evolutionary biology, urban ecology, oceanography, and social and economic sciences. LTER research has advanced the fields of Ecology and the Earth Sciences and helped to provide theempirical data needed to forecast change. It has also advanced understanding of regional and continental-scale processes, through cross-site analyses of ecological change. Urban LTER sites have also contributed to the development of social-ecological theory as a principle objective.

As the LTER Program progresses through its fourth decade, challenges and opportunities arise that demand long-term research. New frontiers have grown out of the recognition that important ecological processes are context-dependent and non-linear, that ecological and evolutionary processes interact continually through feedbacks, and that the effects of environmental change on ecosystem structure and function are poorly understood. The LTER program will continue to provide the basic scientific understanding required to explore these new frontiers.