The National Science Foundation (NSF) created the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program in 1980 in order to understand the dynamics of ecosystem processes. Focusing on long-term, broad-scale research; multi-disciplinary teams; and collaborative efforts, LTER has become one of the most successful programs conducting research in ecology, with over 25 sites covering a diverse range of ecosystems in the continental U.S., Alaska, Antarctica, and islands in the Caribbean and Pacific.
Puerto Rico’s Luquillo site (LUQ) entered the program in 1988 to study the long-term effects of natural and human disturbances on tropical forests and streams in the Luquillo Mountains. How have hurricanes, droughts, agriculture, and urbanization affected these mountains, and how have the mountains responded? Building on a century’s worth of observation and experiment, Luquillo scientists from varied disciplinary backgrounds carry out long-term measurements of the forest’s physical environment, living organisms, and chemical cycles to find answers. The answers in turn inspire more questions while providing a better understanding of how to conserve and manage similar ecosystems throughout the tropical world. Read More
The importance of conservation of freshwater ecosystems, especially tropical streams and rivers, is highlighted in this video by Freshwaters Illustrated (produced with NSF support). LUQ researcher Alan Covich presents a summary of the organisms that inhabit the freshwater streams of Puerto Rico and their importance to the ecosystem's health and services. Dr. Covich also speaks about the conservation and preservation of this valuable resource for future generations.