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Action 3 - Cause-effect analysis and scientific evaluation

Action Responsible


Summary and Objectives

This Action is focused on the analysis of historical and new ecosystem monitoring data coming from a series of LTER sites. It aims at evaluating the status, the trends and the cause-effect relationships at different spatial and temporal scales. The evaluation is taking regional variability and differences between freshwater, marine and terrestrial habitats into account.

For this, the existing LTER network will provide a series of pilot sites for collecting historical as well as new monitoring data. The action takes advantage of the strengthening points of the LTER network (in situ biodiversity and environmental observation, trend data, interaction of driving factors). Its aim is also to provide statistical information for improving the network design (see action A4). State, trends and cause-effect relationships will be communicated to the political arena; the relevant managers, the general public, and the scientific community, according to the dissemination plan (see action A6).

The long-term ecological data will be used to describe and analyse the main temporal and spatial changes in ecosystems and to define a set of key indicators. The choice of the suitable indicators will be based on: 1) The DPSIR framework hence considering socio-economic importance of ecological parameters and impact of management, 2) expertise and knowledge on the long-term dynamics of ecosystems gathered by the LTER-Europe sites (including different scales - from community to landscape level), 3) a set of environmental quality indicators, based on 10-15 key parameters, selected in the sets mentioned in EU official documents (European Commission Communication COM(2006)216 for halting biodiversity loss, EEA SEBI2010 Report 2007, EEA Forest Types Report 2006, SEBI2010 Forest Status Indicator Report, EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, EEA Core Set of Indicators).

Conceptual background

As the ecological theory developed, the concepts and methods dealing with the "environment" (physical, chemical, biological, including human dominated and created environment) changed and improved. The identification and description of the natural, semi-natural and human-dominated and created systems have changed, from a former conceptual model which defined the environment as an assemblage of factors: air, water, soil, biota and human settlements, to the most recent one, which considers that the environment has a "hierarchical spatial and temporal organization" (Odum 1993, Pahl-Wostl 1995, Vadineanu 1998, 2001, Holling et al. 2002).

In this context socio-economical systems are no longer perceived as units external to the environment or as reactive and pro-active units in connection with the nature, but as parts of its hierarchical organization at space and time scale.

In this context the focus of the A3 – “Cause-effect analysis and scientific evaluation” is on the datasets gathered from LTSER/LTER sites viewed as complex landscape/ecosystem sites.

The problem to be tackled in the next steps is to identify the existing long term data sets and make them available for integrated analysis across scales and networks.

LTER/LTSER network should actually act as a network of pilot areas that will let managers and decision makers to make choices which centre on finding the balance between the caring capacity of the ecosystems and landscapes and the many demands placed upon it by the different stakeholders of the entire socio-economic system.

Aims, Sub-activities and Approach


The Action 3 Projects

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