Characteristics of eLTER Site Categories

The main characteristics of the three categories of LTER Sites are listed below. LTSER Platforms, in a nested design, will host several LTER Sites at a regional scale. 


ILTER Master Sites

  • full system approach (covering the entire ecological profile, decisive structures and functions for ecosystem processes);
  • technical site designs customized according to the ecological profile, enabling integrated analyses across system strata (geosphere to atmosphere);
  • covering the required spatial scales;
  • time series of at least 10 years;
  • permanently operated (regular/weekly sampling, continuous measurements etc.);
  • inventories at appropriate intervals across ecosystem compartments;
  • core basic infrastructure: permanent access, power supply, data transmission;
  • highly instrumented;
  • multi use: many other networks and/or related projects use the site;
  • special role in the overall ILTER context:
    • preferred nodes with other (more specific) ecosystem research RIs (e.g. ICOS),
    • experimental approaches existent, or the site design supports their co-location,
  • synonyms: “top sites”, “super sites”, “LTER hubs”, “HIS=Highly Instrumented Sites”, “M-Site”, “sentinel sites”.


ILTER Regular Sites

  • in principle complying with the description of LTER Master Sites (ecosystem approach);
  • they differ in the:
    • level of instrumentation: some indicators might be measured with simpler methods,
    • multi-use and availability of long-term data across all ecosystem compartments and disciplines,
    • number of network memberships;
  • special role in the overall ILTER context:
    • increase network coverage,
    • enable countries with less available resources in the field of ecosystem research to contribute;
  • synonyms: “regular LTER site”, “R-Site”, “Regular Sites”.


ILTER Satellite Sites

  • not following the full ecosystem approach (e.g. for reasons of limited spatial scale considered);
  • specific scientific and/or monitoring foci;
  • may emphasize the long-term monitoring (observation), but there must be an explicit research component;
  • special role in the overall ILTER context:
    • link to the landscape level,
    • RI for topics, which cannot be tackled at a small number small scale highly instrumented sites;
  • synonyms: “extensive LTER site”, “E-Site”.