Site-based, Collaborative, Long-term Projects
We are/have been involved in four relatively long-term research projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF)
- Luquillo NSF-LTER Project: Luquillo Experimental Forest in the El Yunque National Forest in the mountains of northeastern Puerto Rico (1985-present)
- Coweeta NSF-LTER Project: Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in the Nantahala National Forest in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina (1980-2017)
- STREAMS NSF-LTREB Project: La Selva Biological Station in lowland Costa Rica (1986-2022)
- TADS – Tropical Amphibian Declines Project: Panama (2000-2010)
The Costa Rica STREAMS LTREB (Long Term Research in Environmental Biology) Project, which is funded by NSF’s LTREB Program, has evolved over the last three decades to pursue new research directions in response to emergent patterns in long-term data: analysis of >25 year datasets on stream solute chemistry and precipitation led us to redirect our research from stream trophic dynamics and phosphorus cycling to the ecological consequences of climate-driven stream acidification.
Both the Luquillo and Coweeta Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Projects are part of the larger NSF-LTER network of 25 site-based projects across the US. The ecological consequences of land use change and hydroclimatic variability has been a convergent theme of both projects.
While the Coweeta LTER Project has been discontinued, we are continuing our work on the Rhododendron Removal Project in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service. Our studies of stream ecosystems build on a rich history of prior LTER research, made possible by relatively continuous NSF funding over decades (i.e. extending beyond typical 3-year funding cycles) combined with support from the USDA Forest Service. This has resulted in valuable long-term data sets that better inform our research questions. Our collaborative relationship with the USDA Forest Service at the Luquillo LTER site has resulted in management applications of scientific research.
The Tropical Amphibian Declines (TADS) Project in Panama examines ecosystem-level effects of the disease-driven extinction of stream-dwelling frogs. This project builds on pre- and post-extinction datasets on stream ecosystem structure and function, providing invaluable baseline data for continued
In Situ Experimental Research in Streams
Our lab has a history of in situ experimental research in streams. We developed an experimental electric exclosure technique to isolate top-down effects of stream macroconsumers (e.g., fish, crayfish, shrimps) on ecosystem properties and processes by excluding them from foraging on the stream bottom (Figs. 1 & 2). This technique results in exclusion of macroconsumers at a local scale, and is particularly effective when combined with (or nested within) reach-scale experimental manipulations. We initially implemented this technique in our studies in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, and it has since been used in stream studies across the world.
Conservation and Environmental Outreach Activities
Pringle has served as Chair of the OSE Conservation Ecology and Sustainable Development (CESD) Masters Program (link) since it was established as one of the first academic conservation programs in the country in 1993. OSE is also one of the four units at UGA that participates in the more recently developed Integrative Conservation (ICON) PhD Program. Pringle was the initial OSE representative who developed the program with representatives from Anthropology (Brosius), Forest Resources (Nibblink) and Geography (Heynen).
Environmental outreach and education have been incorporated into past and ongoing research projects Examples range from development of posters on riverine biota and connectivity in both Costa Rica and Puerto Rico (see posters below) to the development of an outreach program (Water for Life/Agua para Vida) as part of our long-term NSF-LTREB STREAMS Project in Costa Rica (web page).
Click on posters to enlarge