The network of experimental forests and ranges administered by the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service consists of 77 properties that are representative of most forest cover types and many ecological regions in the nation. Established as early as 1908, these sites maintain exceptional, long-term databases on environmental dynamics and biotic responses. Early research at these sites focused on silviculture, ecosystem restoration, and watershed management. Over time, many of the properties have evolved into a functional network of ecological observatories through common large-scale, long-term experiments and other approaches. Collaboration with other institutions and research programs fosters intersite research and common procedures for managing and sharing data. Much current research in this network focuses on global change and interdisciplinary ecosystem studies at local to global scales. With this experience in developing networks and compiling records of environmental history, the experimental forests and ranges network can contribute greatly to formation of new networks of environmental observatories.
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Vol. 56 • No. 1