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NSF awards $10 million in grants to ocean sites for long-term ecological research

Arlington, Va.--Coral reefs and coastal upwelling ecosystems are the subjects of two new Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites awarded funding by the National Science Foundation (NSF). With the addition of the Moorea Coral Reef LTER Site and the California Current Ecosystem LTER Site, there are now 26 NSF-funded sites in the LTER network. The two newest sites will receive approximately $820,000 for the next six years, for a total of about $ 5 million each.

"These two new sites significantly augment the LTER network, which had included only one marine site, in the Antarctic," says Henry Gholz, director of NSF's LTER program. "The awards ensure that high biodiversity and productivity ecosystems in most of the world's major biomes, both on land and in the oceans, are represented."

Moorea Coral Reef LTER Site

The new Moorea Coral Reef LTER site will be located at the site of the University of California's field laboratory on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia.

Coral reefs rank near the top of all ecosystems when it comes to biodiversity and annual productivity. "These large and diverse communities are fueled by efficient nutrient recycling processes, and by the structure reef-building corals provide," says Phil Taylor, director of NSF's biological oceanography program. "Stony corals are the foundation upon which tens of thousands of other species rely."

Research at the new French Polynesia site will help scientists better understand coral reef processes that drive the functions of this ecosystem; the nature of coral reef animal and plant community structure and diversity; and the factors that determine the abundance and dynamics of related populations. "This understanding," says Taylor, "will allow us to make more accurate predictions of how coral reef ecosystems respond to environmental change, whether human-induced or from natural cycles."

The four principal investigators for the award are affi
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Contact: Cheryl Dybas
cdybas@nsf.gov
703-292-7734
National Science Foundation
26-Jul-2004


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