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US and French long-term ecological research networks agree to share knowledge and skills

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 28, 2013The U.S. Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network and the Zone Atelier network (ZA-LTER France) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing the two networks to share knowledge and skills through collaboration among sites and scientists.

"We are very pleased to establish a more formal working relationship between the US and French LTER networks," said Scott Collins, Chair of the LTER Science Council, who signed the MoU on behalf of the U.S. network.

Speaking on behalf of Gudrun Bornette, the scientific director of ZA-LTER France, former director Yvan Lagadeuc added: "Our goal with this signature is to confirm our common commitment to new projects and also exchanges of collaborators and skills."

The LTER Network was created by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1980 to conduct research on ecological issues that can last decades and span huge geographical areas. The Network brings together a multi-disciplinary group of more than 2000 scientists and graduate students, and the 26 LTER sites encompass diverse ecosystems in the continental United States, Alaska, Antarctica and islands in the Caribbean and the Pacificincluding deserts, estuaries, lakes, oceans, coral reefs, prairies, forests, alpine and Arctic tundra, urban areas, and production agriculture.

The ZA- LTER France network was created by the French ministry of research in 2000. It is now managed by the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and its Institute for Ecology and Environment. Currently comprising 11 member sites and more than 600 collaborators (researchers, engineers, technicians, and graduate students), the network offers a diversity of socio-ecological systems allowing long-term research on ecology and interactions between humans and nature.

The two Networks' envision a society in which long-term ecological knowledge contributes to the advancement of the health, productivity, and welfare of the global environment, thereby advancing human well-being. This vision underpins a common mission, which is to provide the scientific community, policy makers, and society with the knowledge and predictive understanding necessary to conserve, protect, and manage their nations' ecosystems, their biodiversity, and the services they provide.

The signing ceremony at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., was attended by Franois Delattre, the French Ambassador, Franoise Gaill, the policy officer for the Institute for Ecology and Environment of the CNRS, Xavier Morise, who signed on behalf of the President of the CNRS, several scientists affiliated with both LTER networks, and NSF officials.

The MoU comes at a time when the international ecological research community is marking the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the International Long Term Ecological Research Network (ILTER), an umbrella network of more than 40 national LTER networks. The signing also coincides with the annual LTER mini-symposium held at the National Science Foundation (NSF), which this year focuses on collaborations between US scientists, educators, and information managers with their international counterparts.

"The ILTER network grew out of our realization that individual country efforts are not broad enough to effectively understand long-term ecological phenomenon in the context of global change," Collins explained. "As members of the network, both LTER and Zone Atelier contribute to the understanding of international socio-ecological issues through collaborative, site-based long term research projects and the comparison of data from a global network of sites."

Contact: McOwiti O. Thomas
University of New Mexico, Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network

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