Ecology - CAP LTER
Director - Nancy Grimm
MSTF Members - Marissa Boomgaard, Fe Dumapias, Kendall Gilliland, Roger LeBlanc & Melissa Wendell

CAP-LTER (Central Arizona – Phoenix Long Term Ecological Research) is 1 of 24 projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to monitor and assess long-term ecological change in diverse ecosystems in the United States. LTER sites were chosen to develop research topics in 5 core areas.

1. Pattern and control of primary production.
2. Spatial and temporal distribution of populations selected to represent trophic structure.
3. Pattern and control of organic matter accumulation in surface layers and sediments.
4. Patterns of inorganic inputs and movements of nutrients through soils, groundwater and surface water.
5. Patterns and frequency of site disturbances.

Phoenix as a LTER site (CAP-LTER) is unique in that it focuses on an arid land ecosystem that is profoundly influenced and defined by the presence and activities of humans. It is one of only 2 sites that specifically study the ecology of urban systems. Research at this site includes looking at the interactions of ecological and socioeconomic systems in an urban environment, influence of land-use change on ecological patterns and processes; movement of nutrients through highly manipulated, urban streams, lakes, and ponds; interactions of introduced and native species in urban environment; geomorphic change in landforms and interaction with engineered landscapes.

Biological, physical and social scientists from Arizona State University along with their local community partners are working together to study the structure and function of the urban ecosystem, assess the effects of urban development on the Sonoran Desert, and define the impact of ecological conditions on urban development.
The CAP-LTER group monitors many ecological parameters and sites that complement and supplement monitoring efforts by city, county and federal agencies. Over 200 sites are used in monitoring biotic and abiotic parameters. Some of these parameters include plant growth and plant diversity (native and non-native) along streams; arthropod diversity at many sites including commercial, residential, desert and along waterways.

The project also has an explicit commitment to engage the community in their research efforts in K-12 education through programs such as Ecology Explorers where teachers and students are collecting data and testing hypothesis about the impact of urbanization and their local ecosystem. Partnerships with community groups allow informal science education to occur regardless of an individual’s age.

The CAP-LTER is part of an international project and is run by Project Co-Directors Nancy B. Grimm, School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and Charles L. Redman, Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University. Project Managers are Stevan Earl, CAP-LTER Site Manager, of the Global Institute of Sustainability and Monica Elser, CAP-LTER K-12 Education Manager, of the Global Institute of Sustainability.


**Sycamore Creek, Arizona** - Click here to read about our field study that we conducted.
Arthropod Collection and Classification - Click here to read about the Arthropod studies of the ongoing CAP LTER project.
Ecology Explorers --
Click here to read about the Ecology Explorer program for teachers and students.
Nitrogen Deposition Analysis -- Click here to read about the Nitrogen Deposition Analysis