Transformative Science - Key Findings

Among the many research results from LTER sites, some findings stand out as being particularly important to achieve the LTER goal of providing information to conserve, protect, and manage the nation's ecosystems. Key findings at PIE LTER emphasize the importance of long-term data in understanding the pace and pattern of ecological change.

 

SCALE MATTERS
By conducting large scale, long-term studies of entire river-estuary networks, PIE scientists revealed ways that human activities and natural processes interact to control the flow of water and nutrients from the land to the ocean. This science helps to guide the reduction of harmful nitrogen pollution in coastal waters. More information...

 

TIPPING POINTS
PIE scientists have discovered marshes have "tipping points" beyond which sediment accumulation fails to keep up with rising sea level and the marshes drown. These tipping points vary regionally and are influenced by human activities such as dam building and land clearing that affect sediment transport from the watershed. More information...


SALINITY & NITROGEN
Estuaries intercept nitrogen as it travels from watersheds to coastal waters, but the effectiveness of this ecosystem service varies widely. PIE scientists discovered that the magnitude and timing of salinity changes in tidal waters may control the processing of the nitrogen, which may impact the frequency and severity of algal blooms along the coast. More information...


MODELLING MICROBIAL CHEMISTRY
PIE scientists developed a novel approach to model how bacteria and other microscopic organisms transform organic compounds and nutrients in estuarine and other aquatic environments based on ideas from thermodynamics. The new approach will allow scientists to more accurately predict how estuaries and other ecosystems will respond to global change. More information...

 

SPATIALLY-EXPLICIT FISH MOVEMENTS
PIE scientists have been leaders in using anadromous fish movements to inform watershed restoration efforts. Our research on river herring, a declining fish in Massachusetts, is providing new insights into fish ecology as indicators of watershed status, in linking freshwater dynamics to estuarine ecosystem function, and informing watershed restoration. More information...