What have we learned from 10 years of ILTER research?
Bourgeron, Patrick*,1, 1 University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
ABSTRACT- Country-specific long term ecological research (LTER) programs were initially organized by site-based hypothesis testing and the development of theory, with the added value of networked data acquisition, analysis, and testing by predictive models across broader scales. Since its inception in 1993, the international LTER network (ILTER) has focused on the development of national LTER programs. However, rapid ILTER growth has brought with it cultural, scientific, and financial heterogeneity, with member countries in various stages of development, research and educational infrastructures, research policies, and societal needs. This diversity has forced the ILTER to reassess its objectives, products, structure, and processes. In response to the changing needs of its members, the ILTER has recently investigated network-to-network collaboration. In accomplishing this, the ILTER has had to face challenges in four categories: international relevancy of its activities, cross-cultural integration, transfer of information and knowledge across national and regional boundaries in different socio-ecologic contexts, and the appropriate scale of action for capacity building. A major opportunity provided by ILTER collaboration is the ability to study culture as a factor in the functioning of socio-ecological systems. While geography has routinely been studied in past LTER work, culture and its associated social, economic, and political components have not been similarly analyzed. Furthermore, ILTER network-to-network collaboration must reflect national and regional differences while fostering wide international collaboration on common issues and research agendas. Finally, development of principles for the integration of information and knowledge in the ILTER network is imperative to ensure success. The evolution of thinking about the ILTER is discussed. Examples of specific challenges, scientific contributions, principles of integration, and shared research and management themes at regional and international scales and their contribution to the next phase of ILTER development are presented.
Key words: international collaboration, network, ilter
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