LTER-Sites ('traditional' LTER-Sites) are LTER facilities of limited size (about 1-10 km²), comprising mainly one habitat type and form of land use. Activities are concentrating on small scale ecosystem processes and structures (biogeochemistry, selected taxonomic groups, primary production, disturbances etc.).
The site level has been the most common in-situ component of LTER over the past 2 decades. Many sites, set up for pure research purposes, have been maintained for subsequent projects and were thus equipped with certain long term monitoring components. The common denominator of most LTER-facilities on the site level is high heterogeneity across Europe. About 1800 sites with LTER potential ('LTER-like Sites') were collated by the FP6 Network of Excellence ALTER-Net and put into the first European LTER database. Besides location and responsible institution a comprehensive set of site meta-information was collected.
ALTER-Net and LTER-Europe have taken concrete steps towards:
- development of criteria for LTER Sites
- continued improvement of the documentation of LTER Sites
- establishment of key contact points for each site (Scientific Site Co-ordinators - SSC)
- identification of the job-profile of Scientific Site-Co-ordinators (SSC)
- launching Site Co-ordinators Conferences (SSCC) in 2007 and 2008 (January and December)