LTER Scientists Prepare for Y2K All Scientists Meeting

Network News Spring 2000, Vol. 13 No. 1
Network News

Social Science Committee Develops Themes for LTER

J. Morgan Grove, BES LTER
USDA Forest Service Northeastern Research Station

In January 2000, LTER scientists and colleagues from other large interdisciplinary projects funded by NSF gathered in Tempe, Arizona to craft this agenda. After reviewing case studies of projects that have successfully bridged the social/natural science divide, it was agreed that there remains much to be accomplished.

During this workshop, sufficient consensus emerged concerning the integration of humans and ecosystems to allow for discussion to advance to more specific issues. Considering LTER ecologists have defined and implemented a core set of concepts to understand the long-term dynamics of ecosystems for the LTER Network, the workshop participants agreed that a core set of social patterns and processes analogous to the ecological core areas would greatly aid the integration of social sciences into LTER research.

Although preliminary core social science patterns and processes were defined in the Workshop, and consensus was reached on a broad conceptual framework for investigating integrated human ecosystems, participants fully expect that further definition would be needed before these core research areas can be implemented throughout the LTER Network. They proposed a future workshop series where discussion on three domains of ideas could serve as a road map for integration: one workshop would further detail the proposed core social science patterns and processes and their articulation with ongoing research. Another would formulate multi-scale investigatory frameworks considered key to implementing integrated research projects. The third workshop would focus on practical approaches to integration and propose specific pilot projects to pursue. Taken together, these efforts would help to form long-term research initiatives to better understand the complex interactions between human, biological, and earth systems.

Based upon the January workshop, Chuck Redman, Pete Nowak, Jennifer Edmonds, and Morgan Grove worked together to develop a set of workshops for the LTER All Scientists’ Meeting. These workshops include:

  • Strategies for the integration of social, life, and earth sciences for the LTER network.
  • Spatial and temporal scales issues in the social and ecological sciences.
  • Data: methods, tools, and protocols for integrated research
  • A framework for integrating core social science areas for the LTER Network and opportunities for cross-site comparisons.

A particular goal of these workshops is to identify research projects where the collaboration among social, biological, and earth scientists would lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms that govern ecosystem dynamics.

With this in mind, Chuck Redman and Morgan Grove worked with Lauren Kuby to submit an incubation grant proposal to NSF’s Biocomplexity competition. If funded, four research proposals would be identified and a set of workshops would be held focusing on

  1. Practical issues to help the research projects implement integrated research
  2. Ways the proposed social science core areas would be implemented in the pilot projects
  3. Strategies for accommodating multiple spatial and temporal scales of human ecosystems.

Finally, participants from the Tempe workshop have nearly completed a revised White Paper that will be sent to LTER PIs and posted to the LTER Network site.


LTER Representatives

  • CAP LTER Chuck Redman, Nancy Grimm, Ann Kinzig, Lauren Kuby, and Ed Hackett
  • BES LTER Morgan Grove, Bill Burch, and Steward Pickett
  • NTL LTER Steve Carpenter and Peter Nowak
  • BNZ LTER Terry Chapin
  • CWT LTER Ted Gragson
  • KBS LTER Craig Harris
  • LTER Network Office Bob Waide

Scientists Outside of LTER

  • Tom Baerwald, NSF/BCS
  • Anthony de Souza, National Research Council (Geography)
  • Grant Heiken, Los Alamos National Labs wPeter Kareiva, NOAA (Ecology)
  • Emilio Moran, Indiana University (Anthropology)
  • Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University (Political Science)
  • Sander van der Leeuw, Sorbonne (Anthropology)
  • Tom Wilbanks, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (Geography)
  • Brent Yarnell, Penn State (Geography)