Editors Bowman and Seastedt reflect on value of exercise
In The Structure and Function of an Alpine Ecosystem: Niwot Ridge, Colorado, the third volume in the LTER Synthesis Series published by Oxford University Press, editors and Niwot LTER investigators Tim Seastedt and Bill Bowman polish up and present information gathered since the 1950s to create this significant contribution to the understanding of the relationships between the physical and the biotic environment of the alpine ecosystem in central Colorado.
Similar volumes are in the works at several LTER sites, but managing the project is no small task. "Organizing a group of authors can be a headache, but there are ways to facilitate compilation of an edited volume," says Bill Bowman, who believes good organization at the start of the project is integral to its success. "It's a great exercise in synthesizing what has been done and where the research is going. It's also a good way to put the site research into a broader context of general ecological theory, as well as determining what is unique about your own site."
Editor and Niwot principal investigator Tim Seastedt agrees. "The commitment to this effort is substantial and should not be underestimated." Seastedt has ample advice for sites taking on this project. "Editors should provide authors with as much guidance on technical details as possible. Expect to spend substantial time, substantial funds, or both on standardizing writing styles and graphics."
Even with the considerable commitment involved with submitting a volume to the series, the editors all agree the effort is worthwhile. "The book allowed authors to provide an in-depth analysis of their respective subject areas, which allowed us to put these findings into a larger perspective," Seastedt says.
The book is the third in the series that will encompass the legacy of LTER science, following Grassland Dynamics, a synthesis of the Konza Prairie tallgrass ecosystem, and Standard Soil Methods for Long-term Ecological Research, which provides guidance for experimental and monitoring design useful to the greater research community. These volumes are available from Oxford University Press (http://www.oup-usa.org/catalogs/general/series/)