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To define a consistent set of instruments and procedures to measure biological variables across the LTAR network.

Broad Research Question: How is biodiversity related to the provision of ecosystem services within agricultural landscapes and do these relationships change under different management systems, and in response to changing climate and land use?


  • Site Characterization of ANPP, soils and plant diversity. Archive samples for tissue analysis in BAU.
  • Work on protocols for biodiversity. If protocols are already in place, implement the protocols on several sites as a pilot project.
  • Research Questions:  1) How is ANPP and growing season length related to plant and soil microbial diversity?(will add insect diversity when available). 2) How do phenological conditions influence ANPP?


Beltsville, MD (March 2015)
  • Initial meeting of Biological Working Group.
  • Identified and discussed core measurements.
  • Compiled preliminary protocols.
Archbold Biological Station, Venus, FL (February 2016)
  • Finalized protocols of key measurements
  • Identified other potential measurements
  • Identified research questions
Next steps
  • Interact with other workgroups to identify Tier 1 (required) and Tier 2 (optional) assessments.
  • Sites are collecting data and data must be compiled into a network database
  • Pilot test potential measurements


  1. A set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and sampling methodology have been developed
  2. All LTAR sites have operating phenocams
  3. As of 2016:
  • 10 sites reporting measurements of ANPP
  • 6 sites reporting measurements of plant diversity
  • 5 sites reporting measurements of livestock production
  • 2 sites reporting measurements of arthropod diversity

Currently compiling measurements completed by each site in 2017

Datasets Produced

List datasets that will be produced (compiled or managed) by this working group.
  • Phenology camera
  • Aboveground net primary productivity (ANPP)
  • Plant diversity
  • Soil microbial diversity
  • Total C, N, and P at ANPP level
  • Biological pests

Manuscripts Published

List of manuscripts published or under development with LTAR Biological datasets.

Working Group Name

Biological Working Group


David Augustine, Lauren Porensky, Betsey Boughton


List will appear here



The USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Long-Term Agroecosystem Research network consists of 18 Federal and university agricultural research sites with an average of over 50 years of history. The goal of this research network is to ensure sustained crop and livestock production and ecosystem services from agroecosystems, and to forecast and verify the effects of environmental trends, public policies, and emerging technologies.