Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Biological field stations: Keeping a pulse on our planet

18.03.2016

A Global infrastructure for research, education, & public engagement

A recent BioScience paper provides the first comprehensive inventory of the world's biological field stations. Its authors report 1,268 stations are operating in 120 countries -- from the tropics to the tundra, monitoring terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. Long-term data collected by biological field stations are essential for underpinning environmental research, assessing environmental policies, and advancing conservation goals.


The LakeLab at Lake Stechlin in Brandenburg, Germany is a biological field station operated by the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries where scientists are studying the effects of climate change on lakes. It consists of a large central enclosure and 24 enclosures of 9 metres diameter as experimental units.

Credit: ©Peter Casper

Take the case of acid rain. Its discovery in North America was made possible by environmental data collected at a biological field station nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest is just one of the many biological field stations located around the globe that are keeping a pulse on the health of our planet.

Gene E. Likens, President Emeritus of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, is a coauthor on the paper, "Understanding complex environmental problems relies on biological field stations. Our acid rain work, which informed the 1990 Clean Air Act, was based on more than 26 years of long-term data. Biological field stations are a critical part of the global research infrastructure. Yet many are vulnerable to closure and need to do a better job of communicating their importance to decision makers, funders, and citizens."

Biological field stations are under continuous risk of closure due to financial insecurity, lack of public support, and weak governance. Some 38% are tied administratively to colleges and universities, with the rest overseen by museums, government organizations, and not-for-profits. The author's urge the creation of a sustainable framework for biological field stations that recognizes their regional, national, and global importance. They also highlight a need to integrate with larger initiatives, such as the Global Lakes Environmental Observatory Network and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Klement Tockner, Director of the German Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and lead author on the study explains, "Biological field stations are essential to managing the rapid environmental change taking place globally. We need a sustainable vision to ensure their success -- one that includes political support, increased public awareness, modernized cyber infrastructure, and improved data sharing. At the same time, we need to expand stations in areas that are underrepresented ecologically and geopolitically."

Most biological field stations are located in pristine or remote areas, like the Tundra Ecosystem Research Station situated in Canada's Southern Arctic Ecozone. Far fewer are in urbanized areas, like the Ecological Rhine Station situated on a former ship in Cologne, Germany. There is a vital need to record more environmental data in human-dominated systems, such as cities, and in sensitive areas such as deserts, savannas, mountainous regions, and offshore locations.

Undergraduate and graduate training is another benefit provided by biological field stations. These 'living laboratories' play a key role in educating the next generation of environmental scientists, and offer collaborative, hands-on research opportunities.

Likens concludes, "Given the myriad of problems facing our forests, freshwaters, and oceans - networked, sustainable biological field stations are essential. The information they collect is relevant to addressing most of today's pressing environmental problems -- from air and water pollution to the movement of invasive pests and pathogens. They deserve our strong support and protection."

###

The database on biological field stations is integrated in the Freshwater Information Platform: http://atlas.freshwaterbiodiversity.eu/

Publication:

Tydecks, L. et al. (2016): Biological Field Stations: A Global Infrastructure for Research, Education, and Public Engagement. BioScience, doi: 10.1093/biosci/biv174.

Gene E. Likens is president emeritus at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and a distinguished research professor at the University of Connecticut, Storrs; his research focuses on human impacts on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Klement Tockner is director at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Berlin and a professor of aquatic ecology at the Freie Universität Berlin, in Germany.

The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies is an independent, nonprofit environmental research organization located on 2,000 acres in New York's Hudson Valley. A world-premier center for ecosystem science, areas of expertise include disease ecology, forest and freshwater health, climate change, urban ecology, and invasive species. Since 1983, our scientists have produced the unbiased research needed to inform effective management and policy decisions. Our science program is complemented by education and outreach initiatives.

Media Contact

Lori Quillen
quillenl@caryinstitute.org
845-677-7600 x121

 @CaryInstitute

http://www.caryinstitute.org 

Lori Quillen | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>