LTER Road Trip – A Long Legacy

Victoria Long has a deep connection to the land here in Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Her family has farmed this land for generations—since 1652 to be exact. She grew up a few miles from the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, attended the local high school and began to work for the LTER in the…

LTER Road Trip – A Shrubby Invasion

I stood on a windy barrier island, hair whipping around my face as my boots crunched across beach seashells. The waves crashed into the sand, here and there stirring up food for one of the many gulls seeking rest or prey on this island. Before me stretched the Atlantic Ocean, as far as the eye…

LTER Road Trip – Restoring Seagrass in Virginia’s Estuaries

he waters lapping against the shoreline marshes reflected bright blue sky above. I sat in the front of the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research (VCR LTER) site’s boat, exploring the estuary with VCR LTER’s dedicated staff. The tall Spartina alternifora grasses waved in the breeze a foot or two above the waterline, and dozens of egrets, herons,…

LTER Road Trip – Understanding Change in a New Mexico Desert

The land that now encompasses the Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research site has been impacted by people for centuries. Native Americans once camped here between the mountain ranges during the summer months, gathering grasses and burning mesquite for fuel. In the 19th century, cattle ranchers moved in from the east, drawn by the same waves of…

LTER Roadtrip – Baltimore’s Waterways are Getting Salty

Dan Dillon, Ben Glass-Siegel, Nate Vandiver, and I stood at the edge of a Baltimore road. Cars whizzed by overhead as Glass-Siegel and Vandiver picked their way through dense grass to the river running swiftly beneath the bridge, the blades swishing against their long pants as they blazed a path to the rocky shoreline. Glass-Siegel…

LTER Roadtrip – Using Tree Rings to Solve Mysteries

I like to think of Dr. Neil Pederson as a detective. We met in his office at the Harvard Forest Long Term Ecological Research site (HFR-LTER), on the second floor of one of their many beautiful buildings in what feels like a college campus. Multiple sections of tree trunks sit here and there, polished so…

LTER Road Trip – Invasive Species Removal

Students gathered at a saltmarsh site in Massachusetts, taking a break from their regular school day routine to remove invasive perennial pepperweed plants from among the bushes and marsh grasses. Originally from West Asia and Europe, the leafy pepperweed can grow 2-5 feet tall, blooming with small, white, four-petaled flowers. Unfortunately, left alone the pepperweed…

LTER Road Trip – Tracking Change in a Tidal Marsh

Samuel Kelsey and I sped quickly through the marsh in one of the Plum Island Ecosystems LTER (PIE-LTER) site’s motor boats, zipping up our sweaters against the stiff ocean breezes despite the sunny skies of mid-June. The tide was low, and the brown marsh sides rose like miniature cliffs around us. Here and there, pieces…

LTER Road Trip: Exploring the Eddy Flux Towers

Samuel Kelsey, Inke Forbich, and I loaded into the boat at the Plum Island Ecosystem Long Term Ecological Research site (PIE-LTER) dock. The tide was high, water lapping against the mud banks of the marsh creek. Smooth cordgrass waved slightly in the ocean breezes above the shoreline, showing off their early summer emerald hues. Where…

LTER Road Trip: Science and Education on the Water

Every month, Field Technician Tim Montgomery loads his equipment onto a center console motorboat and heads off into the marshes surrounding Sapelo Island, Georgia. Over the course of several hours, he stops at multiple sites to check on the Georgia Coastal Ecosystem LTER network of data loggers continually collecting water quality parameters as they gently…

LTER Road Trip – A Steep Transect

I paused at the top of Coweeta Hydrologic Lab’s transect #327, peering down, down, down at the slope beneath me. Katie Bower, a research technician at Coweeta, and two summer interns had already started down the narrow pathway, accustomed to its slippery leaf layer and sharp contours. Taking a deep breath, I followed slowly behind….

LTER Road Trip – Coweeta Listening Project

It’s morning in the North Carolina mountains, near the Georgia border. The sun rises over blue-green ridges, blanketing the thick foliage with a gentle, golden light. I flip open my copy of The Franklin Press while sipping coffee at a field station, and there, in a bi-monthly column, is an article by Coweeta Hydrologic Lab staff, answering…