Long-Term Ecological Research
LTER – Long-term Ecological Research - organized within a network of sites, was initiated by US ecologists who managed to put through a special program promoted and funded by US-NSF. The main idea behind was to guarantee a continuous basic monitoring and ecological research in selected sites and thus to enable the assessment of interannual changes and cycles effected by natural drivers as well as of human-induced changes and pressures. This might help to elucidate mechanisms of ecosystem functioning and adaptation in a changing environment and also to make scenarios and predictions of ecosystems status in future.
Conditions, important for a successful performance of LTER ideas are (i) an appropriate management and storage of ecological data from the sites, and (ii) cooperation within a network of sites across a large spatial scale. So after establishing the US-LTER network, the attempts started to make LTER-net international (ILTER).
Scientists from the US ILTER program (led by Dr. James R. Gosz) together with the Czech National Committee for MAB (Man and the Biosphere Program) led by Prof. Jan Jenik, promoted the establishment of a Czech LTER, organizing a network based on existing sites with a long-standing history of research. Czech LTER Network was established as a part of ILTER in 1996, with 7 sites. The head of CZ Committee for LTER-network was Dr. Viera Straskrabova, since 2003 Dr. Jaroslav Vrba undertook this duty.
During the same period, the idea of LTER networking was adopted in the Central and East European countries, which all joined ILTER during 1995 – 2000 (Hungary, Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia). In this region Long Term Ecological Research is highly welcomed and supported idea among ecologists for three reasons:
for existing traditions and results mainly in long term biodiversity studies;
for the necessity of joint efforts in averting and preventing regional environmental damages; and
for the recognition of the importance of ecosystem and landscape dynamics which takes place on longer time scales and helps in connecting the past, present and future states of the systems making prediction possible.
During the ILTER meeting in Panama/Costa Rica in 1998, this group established a regional LTER network of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE ILTER).
The attempts to establish a Pan-European Network of long-term ecosystem research using EC funding have been promoted by Terry W. Parr from UK Environmental Change Network (ECN), first within NO-LIMITS Network and recently (since 2004) within EC funded Network of Excellence called ALTERnet. The goal of the NoE is to establish a Biodiversity Observation Network in Europe, based on LTER sites in various countries. Since now, the CEE ILTER group is not more isolated and it is a part of LTER Europe.