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Dodds W.K.,Kansas State University | Robinson C.T.,Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology | Gaiser E.E.,Florida International University | Hansen G.J.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 10 more authors.
BioScience | Year: 2012

long-term research on freshwater ecosystems provides insights that can be difficult to obtain from other approaches. Widespread monitoring of ecologically relevant water-quality parameters spanning decades can facilitate important tests of ecological principles. Unique long-term data sets and analytical tools are increasingly available, allowing for powerful and synthetic analyses across sites. long-term measurements or experiments in aquatic systems can catch rare events, changes in highly variable systems, time-lagged responses, cumulative effects of stressors, and biotic responses that encompass multiple generations. Data are available from formal networks, local to international agencies, private organizations, various institutions, and paleontological and historic records; brief literature surveys suggest much existing data are not synthesized. Ecological sciences will benefit from careful maintenance and analyses of existing long-term programs, and subsequent insights can aid in the design of effective future long-term experimental and observational efforts. long-term research on freshwaters is particularly important because of their value to humanity. © 2012 by American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved. Source

Thompson J.R.,Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Wiek A.,Arizona State University | Swanson F.J.,Us Forest Services Pacific Northwest Research Station | Carpenter S.R.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 5 more authors.
BioScience | Year: 2012

Scenario studies have emerged as a powerful approach for synthesizing diverse forms of research and for articulating and evaluating alternative socioecological futures. Unlike predictive modeling, scenarios do not attempt to forecast the precise or probable state of any variable at a given point in the future. Instead, comparisons among a set of contrasting scenarios are used to understand the systemic relationships and dynamics of complex socioecological systems and to define a range of possibilities and uncertainties in quantitative and qualitative terms. We describe five examples of scenario studies affiliated with the US Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network and evaluate them in terms of their ability to advance the LTER Network's capacity for conducting science, promoting social and ecological science synthesis, and increasing the saliency of research through sustained outreach activities. We conclude with an argument that scenario studies should be advanced programmatically within large socioecological research programs to encourage prescient thinking in an era of unprecedented global change. © 2012 by American Institute of Biological Sciences. All rights reserved. Source

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