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What Is Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER)?

Most ecological studies around the world are conducted at a limited spatial extent and for a short period of time. For many years, long-term studies were difficult to perform and most funding programmes were given to studies that focused on short-term experiments. Today it is clear that data collected and stored for the long-term are essential for our understanding of environmental changes, and they have important consequences for nature conservation and management.

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The conclusions drawn from long-term ecological studies are different in many cases from those drawn from short-term studies, and many ecological processes are essentially long-term, and should be studied over time. Similarly, there is a growing need to predict the expected changes to ecosystems over relatively long time periods.

During the 1980s, researchers in the USA began establishing research stations for long-term monitoring of such processes. In 1993, an international network for long-term ecological research (LTER) was established with the aim of creating collaborations among scientists from different places around the world and facilitating interdisciplinary and comparative studies.

The main topics that the network focuses on at the global scale are

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biodiversity loss, climate change, changes in soil quality and water resource availability and the impact of toxic pollutants and chemicals.

A very important step in long-term studies is the formulation of a ‘work protocol’ in which the methods are defined and the standards for sampling and data processing are determined. In this way similar studies can be conducted in different regions and/or at different times in the same region.

Establishment of a long-term ecological research station at Ramat Hanadiv as part of the global and Israeli LTER network

As described above, Ramat Hanadiv has invested efforts in ecological research since 1985.

Most of the studies performed during this period lasted for two to four years. In 2000, a thinking process was initiated to determine where we are and where we are headed.

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We reached the understanding that we have over 20 years of short-term research behind us, during which a very large amount of data has accumulated from more than 40 researchers on a range of topics, methods and scales. These data were collected without long-term considerations and with no integration between them.

On the other hand, many topics we deal with at Ramat Hanadiv – such as vegetation development (succession), effects of different management actions and disturbances (such as fire, grazing, wood cutting) on the ecosystem, as well as the impact of climate change – require long-term research. This research is designed to guide park management and act as an ecological knowledge base that will also be used to develop different educational programmes.

After a period of discussion, an LTER station was established at Ramat Hanadiv in September 2003.

Within the framework of this activity, and in addition to studies dealing with specific research questions, the programme at Ramat Hanadiv includes long-term monitoring of several predetermined variables and organisms:

gazelles, partridges, songbirds, butterflies, herbaceous vegetation and woody vegetation. Climate data are collected from a meteorological station located in the park. The data collected for the long-term will be collated into an online database and serve as baseline data for future studies.

Long-term monitoring at Ramat Handiv has two main aims: scientific and applicable. Our objective is that a combination of monitoring and management will allow us, over the long term, to conserve and enrich the diversity of species, communities, landscapes and processes that characterise the Mediterranean landscape in the park; to develop new methods for research, monitoring and management, so that the park will serve as a model for open landscape management in the Mediterranean region; to build models for predicting the expected temporal and spatial changes in the ecosystem; and to strengthen the link between scientific research and education and public awareness through increasing accessibility to the research results on the internet and educating for scientific thinking by involving students in research.

Recognising the importance of a long-term vision has also affected the short-term studies being performed at Ramat Hanadiv. Data recording, for example, is performed according to accepted standards, so that data from short-term studies can be saved for the long term and used for synthesis and comparisons.

More than 15 years of long-term research at Ramat Hanadiv have taught us that significant data collection is question- and aim-oriented, and emphasised the importance of data analysis, its assimilation in management, and an ability to deal with the conclusions. Together with these insights, our recognition that values and worldviews affect considerations and decisions became sharper, and the need to include the human component in the monitoring programme became clearer.

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Tour Options for People with Special Needs

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Horticultural Therapy at Ramat Hanadiv

Many studies have demonstrated the link between a green environment, nature or flowering gardens and feelings of calmness and serenity, enjoyment and vitality

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Dining Here

Dining-The Picnic Site

The picnic area is located near the secondary parking lot. You are welcome to spend time there before or after your tour of the Gardens.

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