Network news update

Network News Spring 2012, Vol. 25 No. 1

The LTER Network held its 11th annual mini-symposium in March 2012 at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Virginia. The LTER mini-symposium has become a tradition, attracting not only program officers from the Foundation but also officials from other agencies, congressional staff, and the media. The mini-symposium provides an opportunity for LTER scientists to present new and exciting research findings that cut across the 26 LTER sites.

This year's mini-symposium focused on the contribution of long-term research to sustainability science, and seven speakers, ranging from senior scientists to graduate students, presented a broad range of research on this topic. They included Phil Robertson (KBS), Russ Schmidt (MCR), Gary Kofinas (BNZ), Claire Welty (BES), Jeanine Cavender-Bares (CDR), Billie Turner II (CAP) and Tischa Muñoz-Erickson (LUQ). Saran Twombly, the NSF program director for LTER, and Scott Collins, Chair of the LTER Science Council, introduced the mini-symposium. Dan Childers (CAP, FCE), Chair of the Mini-symposium Organizing Committee, moderated the session. Close to 100 people attended the session and interacted with the LTER scientists. The presentations were also webcast live over the Internet to enable other interested audiences to participate. For those interested in seeing the mini-symposium for themselves, recordings of the presentations are available at

In association with the mini-symposium, NSF sponsored an exhibit of art inspired by LTER science. The week of the meeting, the halls of NSF exhibited paintings, sculpture, poetry, and video by artists associated with various LTER sites. A reception allowed scientists and program officers to mingle with the artists and hear descriptions of what inspired them to create their various works of art. The opening was attended by Dr. Cora Merritt, Deputy Director of NSF. The exhibit was a great success and will be held again at the 2012 annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Portland OR and also at the All Scientists Meeting (ASM) this September (see “Big Science in the Big Mountains: LTER ASM 2012”).

During the same week, the LTER National Advisory Board (NAB) met in Arlington to provide input and advice on the LTER program. After a series of discussions with the LTER Executive Board and program officers from NSF representing the LTER management team, the NAB provided insight on the future direction of the LTER network. The chair of the NAB, Tony Janetos, summed up the conclusions of the NAB at the end of the meeting, which was attended by members Alan Covich, Nancy Grimm, Osvaldo Sala, Ann Bartuska and Susan Stafford. As is customary, the NAB’s insightful recommendations will help the LTER Science Council plan for future activities. When ready, the report from the NAB will be posted in the LTER document archive at

The Executive Board (EB) also had one of its two annual face-to-face meetings in association with the mini-symposium. EB discussions focused on a wide range of LTER topics including the 30 year review, data accessibility, the upcoming ASM, site renewals, supplement requests, proposed changes in the LTER bylaws, and the budget scenario at NSF. In addition, the EB prepared plans for the Science Council meeting to be held in May at Andrews Experimental Forest.

As part of the Arlington meeting, members of the EB visited congressional offices to meet with representatives from districts that host LTER sites. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss with members of Congress the value of federally funded research -- the first time the Board has ever visited congressional offices -- and all agreed it was a valuable experience. The next face-to-face EB meeting will take place at Andrews prior to the annual Science Council meeting.