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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00527

ILTER - the International Long-Term Ecological Research network as a platform for global coastal and ocean observation

  • 1Institute of Oceanography, Federal University of Rio Grande, Brazil
  • 2Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, College of Sciences and Engineering, University of Tasmania, Australia
  • 3Marine Science Institute, University of California Santa Barbara, United States
  • 4Department of Science, Roma Tre University, Italy
  • 5Department of Biology, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, United States
  • 6Bentica Ecology Laboratory, Department of Oceanography, Federal University of Espirito Santo, Brazil
  • 7Laboratory of Marine Ecology, Institute of Biology, University of Latvia, Latvia
  • 8Elwandle Coastal Node, South African Environmental Observation Network, South Africa
  • 9Coastal and Marine Research Institute, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa
  • 10Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica Sperimentale (OGS), Italy
  • 11Flanders Marine Institute, Belgium
  • 12Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Germany
  • 13Akkeshi Marine Station, Field Science Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido University, Japan
  • 14Institute of Marine Science, National Research Council, Italy
  • 15UMR6539 Laboratoire des Sciences de L'environnement Marin (LEMAR), France
  • 16Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), Germany
  • 17Department of Biosciences and Territory, University of Molise, Italy
  • 18Institute Of Oceanology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria
  • 19Umeå Marine Sciences Center, Umeå University, Sweden
  • 20Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, Italy

Understanding the threats to global biodiversity and ecosystem services posed by human impacts on coastal and marine environments requires the establishment and maintenance of ecological observatories that integrate the biological, physical, geological and biogeochemical aspects of ecosystems. This is crucial to provide scientists and stakeholders with the support and knowledge necessary to quantify environmental change and its impact on the sustainable use of the seas and coasts. In this paper, we explore the potential for the coastal and marine components of the International Long-Term Ecological Research Network (ILTER) to fill this need for integrated global observation, and highlight how ecological observations are necessary to address the challenges posed by climate change and evolving human needs and stressors within the coastal zone. The ILTER is a global network encompassing 44 countries and 700 research sites in a variety of ecosystems across the planet, more than 100 of which are located in coastal and marine environments (ILTER-CMS). While most (50%) of the ILTER-CMS were established after the year 2000, in some cases they date back to the early 1900s. At ILTER sites a broad variety of abiotic and biotic variables are measured, which may feed into other global initiatives. The ILTER community has produced tools to harmonize and compare measurements and methods, allowing for data integration workflows and analyses between and within individual ILTER sites. After a brief historical overview of ILTER, with emphasis on the marine component, we analyze the potential contribution of the ILTER-CMS to global coastal and ocean observation, adopting the “Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats (SWOT)” approach. We also identify ways in which the in situ parameters collected at ILTER sites currently fit within the Essential Ocean Variables framework (as proposed by the Framework for Ocean Observation recommendations) and provide insights on the use of new technology in long-term studies. Final recommendations point at the need to further develop observational activities at LTER sites and improve coordination among them and with external related initiatives in order to maximise their exploitation and address present and future challenges in ocean observations.

Keywords: Climate Change, Marine Ecosystems, Ecology, Essential Ocean Variables (EOV), Strenght Weakness Opportunity Threaths (SWOT), Dynamic Ecological Information Management System (DEIMS)

Received: 13 Nov 2018; Accepted: 12 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Muelbert, Nidzieko, Acosta, Beaulieu, Bernardino, Boikova, Bornman, Cataletto, Deneudt, Eliason, Kraberg, Nakaoka, Pugnetti, Ragueneau, Scharfe, Soltwedel, Sosik, Stanisci, Stefanova, Stephan, Stier, Wikner and Zingone. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Jose H. Muelbert, Institute of Oceanography, Federal University of Rio Grande, Rio Grande, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, docjhm@furg.br