The International Long Term Ecological Research Network, ILTER, is a network of networks
, encompassing hundreds of research sites
located in a wide array of ecosystems that can help understand environmental change across the globe. ILTER's focus is on long-term, site-based research and monitoring.
ILTER’s vision is a world in which science
helps prevent and solve environmental and socio-ecological problems. ILTER contributes to solving international ecological and socio-economic problems through question and problem-driven research, with a unique ability to design collaborative, site-based projects, compare data from a global network of sites and detect global trends.
Specifically, the purpose of ILTER is to provide a globally distributed network and infrastructure of long-term research sites for use in the fields of ecosystem, biodiversity, critical zone and socio-ecological research, and to secure highest quality interoperable services
in close interaction with related regional and global research infrastructures and networks.
This is ILTER
A Global Research Infrastructure, comprising
- Some 800 LTER (Long-term Ecological Research) Sites
- Some 200 institutions
- Some 70 LTSER (Long-term Socio-Ecological Research) Platforms
- Several thousands of scientists and a large community
- Many different disciplines
- A huge data legacy gathered over more than a century
- Increasingly standardised metadata on data and sites
- A Network of 40 member networks and two Regional Groups with robust governance structures
- Part of a network of related environmental research and observation networks with multiple partnerships at all level of organisation (sites, countries, regions, global)
- A scientific knowledge factory reflected by ten thousands of papers published on the basis of data and findings generated at LTER facilities and by LTER teams
- A strategic and structuring process
In 1980, the United States National Science Foundation
(NSF) initiated the US Long Term Ecological Research Network (US-LTER
) Network. ILTER was founded in 1993 during the US-LTER All Scientists Meeting at Estes Park, Colorado, USA. It was formed to meet the growing need for global communication and collaboration among long-term ecological researchers and to investigate ecological phenomena in the context of global change.
Initially ILTER received support both financially and for setting up its organisational structures from the US National Science Foundation. In 2007, the ILTER Association
was founded, so that ILTER became a legal entity and its Member Networks
formally joined this association. Also US LTER joined this association as a regular member.
ILTER adopted by-laws
in 2014 to define its own governance structure and become an independent international network relying on financial contributions from its members.
- Long-term: dedicated to the provisioning, documenting, continuous collection and use of long-term data on ecosystems with a time horizon of decades to centuries (covering the aspect of natural capital for sustainable development).
- In situ: data generation at different spatial scales across ecosystem compartments of individual sites, environmental zones and socio-ecological regions.
- Process orientation: aimed at identifying, quantifying and studying the interactions of ecosystem processes affected by internal and external drivers. For socio-ecological systems, process orientation implies both to processes related to ecosystem services and their use and to social processes required to facilitate transdisciplinary research and policy making.
- Systems approach: LTER enables the investigation of ecosystems, earth systems, environmental systems, socio-ecological systems, and hydro-geo-ecosystems in the long-term. The common denominator is "systems" (the earth’s surface system receiving solar energy as opposed to deep earth system), where abiotic and biotic components interact at different scales, and the human use of such systems and their services takes place.