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Fourth call launched for free access to ecological research sites across Europe

eLTER PLUS once again offers ecological researchers free remote and transnational access to 43 ecological research sites.

If you are a scientist working in the fields of biodiversity, biogeochemistry, hydrology or socio-ecological research then you might be interested in the EU-funded eLTER PLUS project’s latest call. Launched in November 2023, it offers scientists the opportunity to conduct research free of charge in one or several of 43 long-term research sites in 19 European countries.

Exploiting the state of the art

The eLTER initiative brings together a wide variety of terrestrial, forest, grassland, desert, tundra, freshwater, coastal and urban ecosystems. As reported in a news item posted on the eLTER website, all the participating sites are equipped with cutting-edge instrumentation, enabling novel research in the form of “comprehensive ecological measurement and experimental campaigns.” Researchers will also have access to years’ worth of data on the sites for comparison or use as a reference. State-of-the-art socio-economic research is carried out at several of the sites. Additionally, IT facilities are made available to scientists to upload, store and process data.

The scheme is open to multinational research teams as well as individual researchers engaged in small-to-medium-scale ecological and socio-ecological projects. Two types of access are provided: transnational and remote. The transnational access option enables in-person visits by researchers to perform measurements or experiments, with on-site staff providing supervision and support. With remote access, site-based measurements are performed by on-site staff on behalf of the researchers. The eLTER PLUS access scheme offers free of charge access to the site(s) and all the services provided by them.

The research questions predefined for the transnational and remote access scheme fall within four thematic categories: drivers, trends and states of biodiversity; carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems; water stress in ecosystems; and socio-ecology. Applicants are welcome to address one or more of the recommended research questions, and they can also define their own research questions to highlight other ways that eLTER research infrastructure can be utilised.

Meeting the criteria

The deadline for applications is 31 January 2024. In their application, interested individuals or teams will be required to describe their scientific idea and list the site(s) they are interested in. Applicants will be informed of the evaluation results in March 2024, following a thorough review process that includes an eligibility check, a plausibility check and a scientific evaluation.

What will be considered when selecting the winning projects? The selection criteria will include “the scientific excellence of the proposed work, the involvement of promising young scientists at the start of their career, the feasibility of the proposed application in accordance with the site manager, as well as the formal eligibility criteria in line with European Commission H2020 access regulations.”

The eLTER PLUS (European long-term ecosystem, critical zone and socio-ecological systems research infrastructure PLUS) project ends in January 2025.