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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Long-term data collection at USDA experimental sites for studies of ecohydrology

Authors
item Moran, Mary
item Peters, Debra
item Mcclaren, M. - UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
item Nichols, Mary
item Adams, M. - USDA FOREST SERVICE

Submitted to: Journal of Ecohydrology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 17, 2008
Publication Date: November 26, 2008
Citation: Moran, M.S., Peters, D.C., Mcclaren, M.P., Nichols, M.H., Adams, M.B. 2008. Long-term data collection at USDA experimental sites for studies of ecohydrology. Journal of Ecohydrology. 1:377–393. DOI: 10.1002/eco.24.

Interpretive Summary: Federally established watersheds, rangelands and forests have produced long-term records of soil, water, and vegetation conditions that span decades and centuries across the U.S. Why is this important? Understanding the landscape response to disturbance allows resource managers to develop realistic goals for long-term site stability and restoration. Understanding historic variability helps us manage current, limited resources. The goal of this review is to express the value of such long-term data for understanding and predicting ecosystem dynamics and the importance of continued long-term data collection. The basic conclusion is that the current understanding of ecology would simply not be possible without these multi-decadal datasets. As a result, long-term data have influenced management strategies for the most important activities and events affecting our natural resources, including livestock grazing, erosion control, logging, urbanization, disease, flood, drought, fire, desertification, and non-native plant invasion. There is a movement across the U.S. to develop a network of networks to study trends in both time and space. New long-term data collection efforts have been designed to coordinate with existing networks, and existing long-term data collection networks have adapted their measurements to address new science issues. This flexibility and foresight has made, and continues to make, long-term data collection sustainable, relevant and inherently valuable.

Technical Abstract: Federally established watersheds, rangelands and forests have produced long-term records of biotic and abiotic measurements that span decades and centuries across the U.S. The goal of this review is to express the value of such long-term data for understanding and predicting ecosystem dynamics and the importance of continued long-term data collection. The basic conclusion is that the current understanding of hydrologic, ecologic, and climatic processes would simply not be possible without these multi-decadal datasets. Similarly, the development of many prediction models has been based largely on parameterization and validation with these data. As a result, long-term data have influenced management strategies for the most important activities and events affecting our natural resources, including livestock grazing, erosion control, logging, urbanization, disease, flood, drought, fire, desertification, and non-native plant invasion. Long-term data collection is just as important now as it was when the federal experimental watersheds, rangelands and forests were established nearly a century ago. There is a movement in the U.S. to develop a network of networks to study spatial patterns as well as temporal trends. Toward this integrated scientific infrastructure, new long-term data collection efforts have been designed to coordinate with existing networks, and existing long-term data collection networks have adapted their measurements to address new science issues. This flexibility and foresight has made, and continues to make, long-term data collection sustainable, relevant and inherently valuable.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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