Expanding the temporal and spatial scales of ecological research and comparison of divergent ecosystems: roles for LTER in the United States
Ecological processes operate at a broader range of temporal and spatial scales than is typically addressed in ecological studies. The Long-Term Ecological Research Program funded by the US National Science Foundation was established to allow ecologists to work over this broader range (Callahan, 1984; Swanson and Franklin, 1988). The expanded temporal and spatial scale of Long-Term Ecological Research (L TER) reveals processes and events that have often been invisible. Our understanding of these processes and events is further augmented by a functioning network of research sites which allows the contrast of similarities and differences among systems which differ greatly from each other, such as deserts, grasslands, forests, and tundra, or even lakes, islands, oceans, and continents.
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