Individual research projects are only part of a Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research program (LUQ). In contrast with more traditional approaches to ecological studies, LUQ researchers consider collaboration and data sharing to be essential steps in the process. They provide support for and share their results with other scientists, students, and volunteers. An on-site information management team functions at an advanced technological level to make the LUQ data accessible to everyone (including the public) and to provide researchers with additional resources. LUQ findings reach the scientific community, policy makers, and general public through a variety of outlets including online and print publications, collaborations, workshops, and electronic communications.
Recognizing the importance of involving the community-at-large in the work taking place in the Luquillo Mountains, LUQ staff has implemented several educational outreach programs. In the Luquillo Schoolyard LTER, teachers and students from island high and middle schools work with scientists to establish long-term plots, and participate in internships and present their research findings to many different audiences in Puerto Rico. Another project, Journey to El Yunque, targets middle-school students throughout the USA via interactive computer modules that feature LUQ research experiences. At the undergraduate and graduate levels, there are a variety of internships and research experiences at the Luquillo site.
Major LUQ funding and support come from the National Science Foundation, the University of Puerto Rico’s Department of Environmental Sciences, and the USDA Forest Service’s International Institute of Tropical Forestry. Additional funding and in-kind support is provided by collaborating institutions from the mainland U.S. These groups work together in an ongoing effort to better understand and protect a changing tropical environment.