Transformative Science at the Coweeta LTER

1. CONTROLLING PLANT INVADERS – Coweeta researchers analyzed invasive plants in forests across 25 U.S. states and demonstrated that activities to control these invaders in critical areas where they grow particularly well can help reduce their abundance across the entire landscape.

2. PREDICTING REGIONAL CLIMATE – Coweeta researchers used over 75 years of climate data from weather stations across Southern Appalachia to document that changes in temperature and rainfall are best predicted by changes in the patterns of ocean currents in the North Atlantic.

3. CLEAN WATER & LAND MARKETS - Coweeta researchers established that the impact of clean water on land values in Southern Appalachia is a function of regular market forces rather than policy decisions, demonstrating that markets are sensitive to changes in environmental quality.

4. CLIMATE CHANGE & HABITAT – Southern Appalachia is a global hotspot for lungless salamander diversity. Coweeta researchers found that every climate change scenario for the region projected habitat declines for lungless salamanders, drawing attention to the critical link between climate change and future amphibian populations.

5. FUTURE NITROGEN CYCLING – Drawing on two decades of research, Coweeta researchers discovered that warmer temperatures increase peak nitrate loading to forest streams during the growing season. These findings suggest that climate warming will triple the nitrogen export from forests, reducing water quality and long-term forest productivity.

6. FOREST BIODIVERSITY – Coweeta researchers analyzed 26,000 trees across 268,000 tree years to show that hundreds of competing species can coexist in a forest because environmental limitations are spread across numerous individual plants. This represents the first strong evidence of “high dimensional biodiversity regulation.”

7. SCALING-UP TO THE CATCHMENT– Coweeta researchers have used over 75 years of vegetation data to pioneer new approaches for scaling-up to whole watersheds. They linked long-term data to models to characterize the forest effects of natural disturbance and human management and the implications for ecosystem services such as carbon cycling and water supply.