Integrating Phenological Studies across the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network

INTRODUCTION: Phenology is, in the words of Aldo Leopold, a “horizontal science” that cuts across and binds together multiple biological disciplines (Leopold and Jones 1947). It is a far-reaching but poorly understood aspect of the environmental sciences. Phenological research has been a component of LTER at several sites over the years. However, it has not received the attention or resources to bring it to the forefront as an effective theme for interdisciplinary and cross-site synthesis.

With the establishment of the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN), it is an appropriate juncture to assess the status of phenological knowledge across the LTER Network and to consider how the LTER Network might beneficially interact with the USA-NPN.

At the 2006 LTER All Scientists Meeting a working group was convened on phenology. The session was well attended with 10 LTER sites, LNO, and CERN represented. One of the recommendations sent forward was the need for a follow-on workshop to evaluate the status of LTER phenological research, to build a community of interest that could facilitate phenological analysis and synthesis across the LTER Network, and to commence a cross-site synthesis of some extant phenological data.

A workshop was funded by LNO and occurred February 26 to March 2 2007 at the Sevilleta Field Station. From this workshop emerged three main products: (1) an initial inventory of LTER phenology datasets; (2) establishment of this website to facilitate information interchange; and (3) a white paper summarizing the findings of the workshop.

Leopold, A., and S.E. Jones. 1947. A phenological record for Sauk and Dane Counties, Wisconsin, 1935-1945. Ecological Monographs 17(1):81-122.