in global initiatives such as the International
LTER will be impaired. The LTER network
is part of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research
Network (TERN), funded by Australia’s
government (5). TERN’s inclusion of existing
LTER capability provided a template that
others in Europe, China, and South Africa
have followed. Discontinuing the LTER network within TERN will therefore undermine
global cohesion in environmental research
At a time when the United States
is increasing funding for its LTERs by
US$5.6M annually (6), and other nations
are rapidly building substantial LTER
capacity, terminating Australia’s LTER
network is totally out of step with international trends and national imperatives. To
prevent the collapse of the LTER network
and prevent the resulting irreversible
impacts of breaking current time-series,
urgent and direct investment by the
Australian government is crucial.
David Lindenmayer and
68 additional authors
College of Medicine, Biology, and Environment,
Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200,
Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The full list of authors is available online.
1. TERN,Quarterly Newsletter,Issue16(2017);
2. D. B. Lindenmayer, E. Burns, N. Thurgate, A. Lowe, Eds.,
Biodiversity and Environmental Change: Monitoring,
Challenges and Direction (CSIRO Publishing,
Melbourne, Australia, 2014).
3. D.A.Keith, Austral.Ecol.40,337(2015).
4. D. B. Lindenmayeretal ., Austral.Ecol .40, 213 (2015).
5. Long Term Ecological Research Network ( www.ltern.org.au).
6. Nature543, 469 (2017).
Full author list
Australia will lose its integrated long-term
ecological research (LTER) network at the
end of 2017 (1). The network comprises
more than 1100 long-term field plots within
temperate forests, rainforests, alpine grasslands, heathlands, deserts, and savannas,
with an unparalleled temporal depth in
biodiversity data. Its many achievements
include Australia’s first published trend
data for key ecosystems (2) and a suite of
IUCN ecosystem risk assessments (3).
Long-term ecological data are critical for quantifying environmental and
biodiversity change and identifying its
causes. LTER is especially important in
Australia because many of the country’s
ecosystems are subject to frequent climatic
extremes. Continuity of long-term research
and monitoring, and broader use of existing time series data by science and policy
communities, are crucial for measuring
impacts of current unprecedented global
environmental change and reliably predicting future impacts.
Long-term research and monitoring is
also essential to understanding relationships between the economy, ecosystems, and
risks to human well-being (4). The loss of
Australia’s LTER network will substantially
diminish resource managers’ ability to judge
the effectiveness of management interventions on which billions of dollars are spent
annually (such as vegetation restoration
and invasive species control). Ending the
network will also jeopardize sustainability
assessments of resource-based industries
such as agriculture and forestry. Moreover,
Australia’s capacity to participate effectively
Edited by Jennifer Sills
L E T T E R S Australia’s long-term ecological
research projects are at risk.
Academics can help
Public understanding of science is increasingly important. Wikipedia is widely used
by students, educators, researchers, doctors,
journalists, and policy-makers. The online,
crowd-sourced encyclopedia site is perceived as increasingly trustworthy, making
it a key public engagement platform with
immediate impacts on scientific literacy (1).
Now is an important time in the evolution
of the encyclopedia. Its parent organization,
the Wikimedia Foundation, is working to
shape its strategic focus through to 2030.
This represents an unprecedented opportunity for the global scientific community to
advise on its future. Wikipedia has discussion pages for users to provide feedback on
some of the upcoming challenges (2).
The scientific community can improve
Wikipedia on a more granular level by
learning to edit the encyclopedia in areas
that need improvement. Poorly written
articles can mislead readers and give a
false impression of a research field. The
recent introduction of a new editing interface has made the encyclopedia as easy
to edit as a Word document, and a short
2014 article outlines some editing advice
for scientists (3).
Wikipedia is increasingly engaging
expert communities to improve accuracy and coverage. Interested parties can
contribute to several existing collaborative initiatives or propose new ones. For
example, some academic journals (such as
PLOS Computational Biology, Gene, and
WikiJournal of Medicine) have agreed to
dual-publish articles as both a citable publication and Wikipedia page (4). The Cochrane
library, a collection of health care databases, has a similar quality-improvement