LTER Overview

Long-term ecological research is, quite simply, ecological research conducted over long periods of time. Some ecological phenomena can be studied in short-term experiments, but certain ecosystem properties and processes can only be appropriately interpreted and understood through long-term research and analysis. Ecologists from the U.S. Long-Term Ecological research Program describe these as:
1. Slow processes that can occur over years to centuries,
2. Processes with high annual variability,
3. Rare or unique events,
4. Subtle processes, and
5. Complex process with many interacting factors

The goal of Ontario's Long-Term Ecological Research Program is:

"To conduct long-term ecological research that is necessary for sustainable ecosystem management and to apply this information to Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources policy development."

Massive public and private sector efforts are under way to ensure that Ontario's forest ecosystems continue to supply Ontarians with a variety of economic, biological and social values. Forest ecology research id necessary to understand how our resource uses affect the long-term health and stability of our forests.

Inland lakes make up a significant proportion of the Ontario landscape. There are approximately 260,000 lakes in Ontario, ranging in size from less than a hectare to thousands of hectares. Our lakes provide a wide range of benefits to Ontarians, including drinking water, fishing, boating, swimming, canoeing, and aesthetic and spiritual values. The vast majority of these inland lakes are surrounded wholly or partially by forests.

from A. E. Hayes and W.G. Cole, 1996. Long-term Ecological Research Program 1995 Annual Report. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Forest Research Information Paper No. 135.

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