LTER Graduate Student Symposium

Poster Disciplines/Format:
Final Report (Required, .pdf format only) : 
Chelse Prather
Amber Hardison

Graduate Student Symposium

Saturday 7:00 pm Meet & Greet Mixer
Location: Convention Center Assembly Hall

Sunday -  Plenary Meeting
7:00am  - Breakfast - YMCA Dining Hall

8:30 - Welcome & Introduction
Amber Hardison (VCR), Chelse Prather (LUQ)
Location - Longs Peak Diamond East & West

9:00 - What are the LTER and LNO?  
Henry Gholz (NSF), Bob Waide (LNO), Todd Crowl (NSF)

Sustaining a changing future: Human-fire interactions in Alaska Terry Chapin (BNZ)

Coffee Break - Convention Center Assembly Hall

Successful LTER Student Collaborations:
Location - Longs Peak Diamond East & West

(1) Predicting community response to N-enrichment with Specific Leaf Area: a multisystem test
Marko Spasojevic (NWT)

(2) Exploring the social dynamics of landscape interventions using a spatially explicit human - natural systems model framework
Brian Voigt (BES)

(3) Cross-site synthesis: Using terrestrial-aquatic linkages to form graduate student linkages
Becky Ball (MCM)

12:00 -  Lunch - YMCA Aspen Dinning Room

1:00 - Interactive Career Panel:
Shawn Dalton (NGO)
Stuart Grandy, (Academia)
Dan Childers (Academia),
Todd Crowl (Government)
Sherri Johnson (Government)
Meredith Knauf (Private)
John Kominoski (Post-doc/Academia)
Location - Longs Peak Diamond East & West

We would like to thank all of the participants who made this symposium possible. Thanks especially to the planning committee: Luke Cole (VCR), Michele Romolini (BES), Jessica Savage (CDR) and Kirsten Schwarz (BES).

Affiliations of Career Panelists

Dr. Shawn Dalton (student & currently at BES) Director, Environmental and Sustainable Development Research Centre, University of New Brunswick

Dr. Stuart Grandy (student and currently at KBS, postdoc at NWT) Assistant Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University

Dr. Dan Childers (student at NIN, currently at FCE, CAP) Associate Director of Research, Global Institute of Sustainability & Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Dr. Todd Crowl (student & currently at LUQ), Program Director, Ecosystem Science Cluster, Division of Environmental Biology, National Science Foundation

Dr. Sherri Johnson (student at LUQ; post-doc & currently at AND) Lead USFS Scientist, Andrews Experimental Forest, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station

Meredith Knauf (student at NWT) Environmental Scientist/Hydrologist, Trihydro Corporation

Dr. John Kominoski (student at CWT, currently I-LTER) Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Forest Sciences, University of British Columbia

Working Group Descriptions


1) Potential inter-site comparisions of carbon studies in the LTER network
Organizers: Carlos Sierra, AND (; Claire Phillips, AND (
Room: Diamond East
The goals for this 2-hour working group are: 1) to meet colleagues working in C-cycling and have an opportunity for discussion, 2) to identify C-cycling research questions or methodological issues that are of broad interest across ecosystems, 3) to assess the potential to address some of these questions with data from multiple sites or ecosystems. In the first hour we will hear brief presentations from students working at Harvard Forest, Niwot Ridge, Konza Prarie, and HJ Andrews. In the second hour we will brainstorm on a list of topics for break-out groups, and these smaller groups will work to come up with several interesting research questions and suggestions on types of data from the network that could be used to address them. The small groups will report back, and at the end of the workshop we expect to have a list of topics and sites with major potential for inter-comparison analyses. The results of the workshop will be assembled in a short document that could be used for future activities.
2) The impacts of intra-annual precipitation variability on ecosystems
Organizer: Todd Robinson, KBS (
Room: Diamond West
The goal of this working group is to organize a graduate student collaboration focused on using LTER data to explore how climatic variability at seasonal or shorter time scales affects community attributes like primary production. Previous cross-site analysis has demonstrated that communities respond to rainfall variation between years, but increased variability is expected within years as well, with less frequent, but more intense rainstorms.  Understanding how fine scale variability in rainfall affects communities could be an important contribution by LTER science and I encourage you to contact me with any ideas you'd like to contribute ahead of time, such as variables other than primary productivity.


3) Comparisons of top-down controls on autotrophic biomass in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
Organizers: Moira Decima, CCE (; Darcy Taniguchi, CCE (
Room: East Side Rainbow B
Trophic relationships are important in structuring the distribution, abundance and biomass of organisms within all ecosystems.  These structuring influences may be due to resources (bottom-up), consumers (top-down), or both.  Our understanding of top-down forcing is quite limited compared to our knowledge of resource structuring mechanisms.  Many factors determine the degree of top-down community structuring, such as the linearity of the food web, system productivity, predator:prey ratios, turnover time, community composition, etc.  Due to the wide variety of possible influences, the effect of consumers on resources varies, both within and among ecosystem types as well as spatially and temporally in the same system.  The purpose of this workshop is to address the similarities and differences in top-down forcing of autotrophic biomass in oceanic, limnetic, and terrestrial systems.

4) Restoration Ecology & Ecosystem Restoration – What does it mean across LTERs?
Organizers: Melanie Harrison, BES (; Tammy Newcomer, BES (
Room: East Side Rainbow C
As restoration ecology is a “science” in its infancy, it has no strict definition. The “practice” of ecological restoration has increased and varies dramatically across biomes due to context specific goals and objectives. This workshop is intended for individuals who are interested in discussing the “science” of restoration ecology and how it varies across LTERs. This topic is particularly appropriate for the LTER All Scientists Meeting because long-term ecological data collected prior and post restoration efforts can provide useful information regarding the resiliency of an ecosystem. This workshop should be viewed as an informational workshop where participants will be able to present past, current, and future work on this topic. A broad definition of restoration ecology and ecological restoration will be used to initiate discussion regarding the overall topic.

5) Identifying the benefits and barriers to graduate student cross-site socio-ecological research in urban systems
Organizers: Elizabeth Cook, Bethany Cutts, Rebecca Hale, David Iwaniec (CAP); Greg Koch, Greg Losada, Jay Munyon, (, Olivia Pisani, FCE; Michelle Romolini, Kirsten Schwarz, BES (
Room: East Side Rainbow D
This working group will focus on cross site comparisons of socio-ecological research in urban systems, specifically addressing the benefits and challenges for graduate students in conducting cross LTER site comparisons. The main activity of the workshop will be an open discussion addressing the following questions:
What are the benefits and constraints that graduate students experience when conducting cross site socio-ecological research?
What has been done in the past to facilitate cross site interdisciplinary research among graduate students? What approaches have been most successful?
How do graduate students currently manage interdisciplinary/socio-ecological research within their own site?
How do graduate students see themselves fitting into the larger LTER network? Do their perceptions of their role within the LTER network inhibit/facilitate cross-site research?
How can graduate students at existing non-urban sites start urban research programs and what are the lessons learned that can be leverage from the urban LTER sites?
This working group will break into two separate workshops during the ASM meeting to continue discussions and develop two products: 1) a manuscript addressing the barriers and benefits that graduate students face when conducting cross-site socio-ecological research in urban systems and 2) a networking tool that would link graduate students doing socio-ecological research in urban system across the LTER network.

6) Cross-site discussions comparing the ecological impacts of physical changes in the cryosphere
Organizers: Heidi Geisz, PAL (; Marie Sabacka, MCM, (
Room: East Side Deer Ridge B
Throughout the last five decades, we have observed an acceleration of climate warming, particularly in the high latitude regions. However the cryosphere, or region of the earth containing water in the solid form, has been impacted worldwide. Principally, reduction in permafrost, sea and glacial ice (continental and alpine) as well as lake and river ice and fluctuation in seasonal snowpack are driving seasonal and potential regime shift changes in a variety of ecosystems. Examples are evident across LTER study sites where a reduction or shift in the cryosphere has influenced hydrology, limnology, soil temperatures, phenologies and ultimately biodiversity.
The primary objective of this working group is to discuss and generate new links across sites addressing the mechanisms and consequences of cryosphere loss on ecosystems and ecosystem services. In preparation for the main meeting session, The Disappearing Cryosphere: Processes, Causes and Implications, we hope to foster novel ideas through student discussions. We will request student volunteers from 3-5 relevant LTER sites to give a short presentation summarizing local ecosystem effects, generating a background for our conversation. From this working group we will produce a short report detailing the discussion content for contributing to the main ASM session addressing these issues.

7) Engineering global change experiments
Organizers: Meghan Avolio, KNZ (; David Hoover, KNZ/SGS (, Sally Koerner, KNZ, (; Jen Plaut, SEV (
Room: East Side Deer Ridge C
Global change is an all-encompassing term for changes to the abiotic environment including changes in temperature, precipitation, increased atmospheric carbon dioxide, nutrient deposition, and pollution. The purpose of this working group is to discuss current global change manipulations and see if we as a group can come to any consensus on what an ideal future global change experiment would look like focusing on terrestrial ecosystems. Topics discussed will include contrasting various experimental designs and synthesizing how multiple global change stressors interact.

8) Integrative understanding and cross-site comparison of socio-ecological research in non-urban ecosystems
Organizers: Lindsay Cray, LUQ (; Shan Ma, KBS (
Room: East Side Deer Ridge D
As human management results in pervasive and profound changes in various ecosystems, there is an emerging need for research that integrates social science with ecological science. By investigating and comparing the examples of socio-ecological studies in LUQ, KBS and other sites, this working group is going to provide a detailed explanation of the necessity, pertinence, and outcomes of socio-ecological studies based on the LTER Integrative Science for Society and Environment (ISSE) conceptual framework. The integrative approach of this working group should help to promote a better understanding of socio-ecological research, allowing those in the many fields of ecological science to better anticipate, mitigate and manage the environmental consequences from non-urban terrestrial ecosystems in the future.


Please see the ISSE Graphic in the full PDF version of this agenda in the Working Group Materials section


Guide for New LTER Graduate Students

Welcome to the LTER network! You are now working in a network made up of scientists, students, and staff from 26 LTER sites representing diverse ecosystems and research questions. In this guide, we would like to provide you with information that should help you have a successful career as an LTER student.

Get connected!

1. Get in the network database and your site’s database and on appropriate listservs to make sure you are getting all of the information you are entitled to—you should be receiving email from the LTER network office and your particular site. The best way to make sure you are in these databases is to be in contact with the graduate student site representative and/or the information manager for your site. If you are not on the list, you will miss important opportunities that you should know. And we assure you, you will not get lots of spam!

2. Familiarize yourself with the LTER program. Check out these websites:
a.Public (
b.LTER graduate students (to be updated soon!
c.LTER private (
d.Site specific (
e.LTER network office (LNO) (

3. Familiarize yourself with LTER research and using/sharing LTER data.
a.What data is available to you from your site, and across the LTER network?
b.Is there work similar to yours being done at another site, or is there an opportunity for you to do cross-site research?
c.Get to know the PIs at your site early! They know the literature, previous research and possible ideas for research questions.
d.Get to know your Information Manager (IM) who is in charge of your site’s data .

Get involved!

1. Leadership opportunities
a.Graduate student site representative
b.LTER Graduate Student Committee co-chair

2. Networking opportunities
a. Within your site at your annual meetings
b. With other LTER students at the Graduate Student Symposia
c. With the whole network at the Triennial All Scientist Meetings

Session Info

Ancillary: Working Group Session 2

Sun, 09/13/2009 - 8:30am - 7:00pm
Longs Peak Diamond East
Working Group Materials