LINX I and II: Lessons Learned and Emerging Questions

TitleLINX I and II: Lessons Learned and Emerging Questions
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWymore, AS, Rodríguez-Cardona, BM, Herreid, A, McDowell, WH
JournalFrontiers in Environmental Science
AbstractThe Lotic Intersite Nitrogen eXperiments (LINX I and II) were a series of replicated in situ manipulations of 15N across biomes and land-uses designed to assess the factors that control the removal, retention, and ultimate fate of inorganic nitrogen in stream ecosystems. By studying streams at the continental scale, the lessons learned provide some of the best data available to understand the functional role of streams across the landscape, the management implications of nitrogen uptake in streams and rivers, and the value of small streams in elucidating fundamental principles of ecosystem science. Because small streams are characterized by high throughput and low standing stocks of primary producers and stored carbon and nutrients, they provide unique opportunities to assess the fundamental drivers of nitrogen cycling that would be difficult to conduct in other ecosystems. In addition to the water quality implications of understanding controls on nitrogen delivery to downstream systems, LINX I and II also provide unique insights for ecosystem science and stream ecology more broadly. Here we review a series of ecosystem and network-scale lessons that can be inferred from LINX I and II. We then propose three emergent research questions motivated by the LINX projects which are amenable to future continental-scale work. LINX I and II also demonstrate the value of a highly collaborative, distributed approach to ecosystem science that requires each member of the team to conduct a standardized protocol while simultaneously encouraging team member to improve protocols and develop cross-site projects in his or her specific area of expertise.