Long-Term Ecological Research on Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change

Publications Type: 
Journal Article
Publication Number: 

Jones, Julia A; Driscoll, Charles T. 2022. Long-Term Ecological Research on Ecosystem Responses to Climate Change. BioScience. 72(9): 814-826. doi:https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biac021


In this article marking the 40th anniversary of the US National Science Foundation's Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network, we describe how a long-term ecological research perspective facilitates insights into an ecosystem's response to climate change. At all 28 LTER sites, from the Arctic to Antarctica, air temperature and moisture variability have increased since 1930, with increased disturbance frequency and severity and unprecedented disturbance types. LTER research documents the responses to these changes, including altered primary production, enhanced cycling of organic and inorganic matter, and changes in populations and communities. Although some responses are shared among diverse ecosystems, most are unique, involving region-specific drivers of change, interactions among multiple climate change drivers, and interactions with other human activities. Ecosystem responses to climate change are just beginning to emerge, and as climate change accelerates, long-term ecological research is crucial to understand, mitigate, and adapt to ecosystem responses to climate change.