Surprises and insights from long-term aquatic data sets and experiments

Walter K. Dodds, Christopher T. Robinson, Evelyn E. Gaiser, Gretchen J.A. Hansen, Heather Powell, Joseph M. Smith, Nathaniel B. Morse, Sherri L. Johnson, Stanley V. Gregory, Tisza Bell, Timothy K. Kratz, William H. McDowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-721
Number of pages13
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We appreciate all the individuals who helped collect the data presented in this article. We thank the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network office for enabling our group to meet in Estes Park in 2009 and the National Science Foundation (NSF) for funding (grant no. 0919443 to WKD), and support was also provided by the following NSF LTER grants: no. 1026843 at the Toolik Lake site, no. 0822700 at the North Temperate Lakes site, no. 0823341 at the Konza Prairie site, no. 0620910 at the Luquillo Experimental Forest, no. 0823380 at the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest, no. 0832652 at the Niwot Ridge site. The Lake Annie data were supported by Archbold Biological Station. This is contribution no. 12-437-J from the Kansas Agricultural Experiment Station.


  • data
  • freshwater
  • lakes
  • long term
  • streams


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