Plum Island Ecosystems Long Term Ecological Research (PIE LTER IIIB, 2012-2016)


The Plum Island Ecosystems (PIE) LTER has, since its inception in 1998, been working towards a predictive understanding of the long-term response of coupled land-estuary-ocean ecosystems to changes in three drivers: climate, sea level, and human activities. The Plum Island Estuary-LTER includes the coupled Parker, Rowley, and Ipswich River watersheds, estuarine areas including a shallow open sound, and extensive tidal marshes. PIE is connected to the Gulf of Maine in the Acadian biogeographic province, which is a cold water, macrotidal environment that is geographically and biologically distinct from coastal ecosystems to the south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Over the next four years the LTER will build upon the progress they have made in understanding the importance of spatial patterns and connections across the land-margin ecosystem. The overarching goal is to understand how external drivers, ecosystem dynamics, and human activities interact to shape ecological processes in a mosaic of coastal landscapes and estuarine seascapes. Understanding how landscapes and seascapes evolve and change, and how those changes control ecosystem processes, is both a fundamental science question and a critical management question. During the remainder of PIE III LTER researchers will continue to address the role of temporal change and variability in climate, sea-level rise and human activities on ecological processes in our long-term monitoring but they will also initiate new activities that examine spatial arrangements and connectivity. LTER research questions are focused around two themes: 1) What controls the spatial arrangements and connectivity between ecological habitat patches in the coastal zone? 2) How do the spatial arrangement and the connectivity between ecological habitat patches in coastal watersheds and the estuarine seascape influence ecological processes?

Project Funding: 

NSF OCE LTER-PIE: Interactions Between External Drivers, Humans and Ecosystems in Shaping Ecological Process in a Mosaic of Coastal Landscapes and Estuarine Seascapes

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