Taiwan Ecological Research Network
ILTER regional network: East Asia-Pacific
The Taiwan long term Ecological Research Network (TERN) was established in 1992 with main sponsorship from the Taiwan National Science Council (NSC) and with cooperation from universities and the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute (TFRI). The network was launched with just one site, the Fu-shan long-term ecological study site. Initially, the TFRI proposed to open its experimental site to all scientists interested in ecosystem studies when the Fu-shan Experimental Forest was established in 1990. The program was promoted as a LTER site with support from scientists from several universities and the NSC funded the Fu-shan LTER site in 1992. As the program met with great enthusiasm from ecologists in Taiwan, the NSC subsequently extended the TERN program to its current four sites (Fu-shan Forest, Guan-dau-shi Forest, Nan-jen-shan Forest/Lake, and Ta-ta-chia Forest). In additional to those NSC funded sites, the Yuan-yang Lake site has been funded by the Institute of Botany, Academia Sinica 1992. The TERN sites were chosen based on representative of forest ecosystem, facilities, compliance of land management agencies.
The principal objective of the TERN program is to understand long-term ecological phenomena and processes within Taiwan's dominant ecosystems. TERN's major concern is to gather baseline data on the productivity, diversity, structure, and function/process of Taiwan's major ecological systems. The program focuses on the long-term impacts of major disturbances (such as natural erosion, typhoon, monsoon, pollution and land use, etc.) at the research sites. The results of the long-term studies aid in understanding Taiwan's ecosystems, and the subsequent construction of ecological models may eventually be used to predict and ameliorate environmental disturbances at local, regional, and global levels. This information will also provide the insight necessary for sustainable ecosystem management and sound policy development. More specific objectives include:
- Understanding phenomena, processes and mechanisms of ecosystem dynamics;
- Studying the major natural and human disturbances which affect ecosystem dynamics and ecosystem responses;
- Identifying ecological processes to address environmental changes;
- Providing science-based information to decision makers in formulating environmental policy;
- Training young scientists in ecology and using the long-term sites as resources for education;
- Incorporating the research results into ecology curriculums at all levels of education, particularly in the field of subtropical forest ecology;
- Sharing research ideas and base-line data with scientists from other ecological sites through meetings and international networking; and
- Promoting collaborative research projects with scientists from other ecological sites, particularly sites with similar ecological settings.
Initially, the TERN is loosely formed through the funding of individual research projects at each site. The research projects were mainly inventory type research in the first phase of TERN. Consensus on core research areas is gradually built through discussion among multi-disciplinary scientists. Major effort has been put in to the establishment of data sharing and networking among the five sites. After a discussion, in the first all scientists meeting of TERN held in January 2000, research now focuses on nutrient budgets, plant-animal interactions, and net primary production at all five sites. To facilitate standardized experimental methodology, research projects on cross-sites comparison of ecosystem processes and functions will be encouraged.
The promotions of LTER concept to some governmental organizations, press media and general public through various means have been very successful over the past few years. For instance, the TERN program was introduced to the general public through many news media (such as magazines, newspapers, television and radio broadcasting programs). With the adoption of the concept of establishing long-term baseline database for management decision-makings, the National Park Department of the Construction and Planning Administration, the Ministry of Interior, additional LTER sites will be established in the National Park system. Currently, a coastal coral reef site at Keng-ting National Park and a river gorge site at the Tai-Lu-Ga National Park are under planning.
Participation in International LTER research activities is one of the objectives of TERN.