Advances in observatories of mountain social ecological systems

Our session focused on the socio-ecological research conducted at long term observatories or long term ecological research sites (LTER) and long term socio-ecological research (LTSER) platforms. Themes which emerged from the presentations and discussion in my mind were firstly the value of considering gradient analysis to maximise knowledge of the interaction between humans and their environment; either within a single discipline (e.g. vegetation analysis in an altitudinal transect) or across a rural mountain to lowland urban gradient (e.g. by co-locating climatic, atmospheric and water quality equipment).

A second theme was the evident desire of the researchers to make the long term data available to others both as an immediate real time data stream and as downloadable common delimitated files. The value of publishing data sets i.e. obtaining a digital object identifier (DOI) was also highlighted. In addition to quantifying the number of occasions which data were viewed on a website or downloaded the DOI allowed researchers to track the number of times their data was cited by other researchers. All of these methods which numerated the societal use of the data collected were recognised as important to convince funders that the collection of the long term data was societally useful and worthy of funding.

A third theme which emerged was the opportunity for transdisciplinary research fostered by the placed-based nature of the long term observatories encouraging human connections between the scientists and local people to flourish and enhancing knowledge exchange over the long term.

The researchers present represented both the natural and social sciences and the discussion was enriched by the many viewpoints expressed.

(Jan Dick, session chair)


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