Reflections, applications and future directions of Long-Term Ecological Research at Tierberg
Tierberg-LTER is a research site established in 1987 in the semi-arid Succulent Karoo near Prince Albert in the Western Cape province, South Africa. The original purpose for its establishment was to study ecosystem dynamics and the drivers of vegetation in the context of historical land use. The large body of work that has materialised from Tierberg-LTER is grounded on extensive baseline data and has greatly influenced the broader Karoo literature. It stands as the only long-term ecological research facility for the semi-arid region of South Africa. The Karoo environment faces several new developments centred largely on the expanding energy sector. Under a changing climate, ecosystems will have to further adapt to the impacts of such developments. The future research programme for Tierberg-LTER will accordingly continue to focus on understanding Karoo ecosystem dynamics and drivers of climate and anthropogenic change at local scales, thereby informing management and mitigation of future development impacts. Among a growing network of Karoo research sites, Tierberg-LTER maintains a unique role for long-term and intensive research that will contribute significantly towards the South African Environmental Observation Network’s vision of furthering ecosystem integrity, societal prosperity and sustainable development.
Keywords: arid environments, development, ecosystem dynamics, Karoo, rangeland management