As I mentioned in the winter issue of our newsletter, the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network Office (LNO) is in the process of winding down activities as our current award comes to an end. Between now and April 2016, remaining LNO staff will work to insure a successful 2015 All Scientists Meeting (see accompanying article) and maintain the infrastructure needed for the Network Information System and associated personnel and site databases. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has provided funds to carry out these activities during the next year as they implement a transition to a new National Communications Office (NCO) for LTER. During the transition, there may be interruptions in some functions as we reduce staff. For example, this is likely to be the last LTER newsletter until the new office is established later this year. I ask for your patience if we are not able to address your questions and requests promptly.
We are all looking forward to an exciting All Scientists Meeting (ASM) at Estes Park, CO, this September. The LTER Science Council is organizing a series of working groups that will focus on new and continuing Network science themes. A stellar program of plenary presentations is headlined by Dr. James Olds, Assistant Director for Biological Sciences at NSF, and includes Diana Wall (Colorado State University), Knute Nadelhoffer (University of Michigan), and Ned Gardiner (NOAA).
In keeping with the focus of the new NCO, we have arranged for a plenary presentation by the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. Early submissions include working groups focused on high-energy storms such as hurricanes and typhoons, Antarctic ecosystem responses to climate variability, the value of long-term ecological research, metapopulations and metacommunities, climate change trends at LTER sites, and scientific visualization. The ASM will provide the opportunity for meetings of LTER graduate students, information managers, education specialists, and site communication representatives, as well as the Executive Board and Science Council. We will be joined by colleagues from the Critical Zone Observatory Network, the National Ecological Observatory Network, and international networks including the Swedish Infrastructure for Ecosystem Science (SITES) Network. The meeting promises to provide an excellent opportunity for all to learn more about LTER research and to build new collaborations. I look forward to seeing many of you at the ASM. For those of you who cannot make the meeting, note that we will provide reports from working groups on the ASM website after the meeting.
The Network Information System (NIS) continues to provide access to LTER data through the Data Portal. The total number of LTER data packages is now approaching 30,000, including nearly 5000 data packages contributed by LTER sites. The LTER generic member node continues to synchronize data with DataONE, thus providing broader access to LTER data. The LNO will continue to maintain the NIS while NSF considers plans to manage the system into the future. Meanwhile, the LNO has received several inquiries about adapting the PASTA software that provides the backbone of the NIS for use by other networks and research centers. We are awaiting word on a proposal to extend the NIS framework to other research communities, including the Organization of Biological Field Stations and the Long Term Research in Environmental Biology program.
Finally, I’d like to thank those of you who responded to my request for newsletter articles. Because of your prompt and enthusiastic response, this will be one of the most informative newsletters ever. Keep up the good work.