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Sentinel Research Sites in Global Change Research: Whiteface Mountain, New York

Jay Wason1,*, John Battles2, Monica B. Berdugo3, Paul Casson4, Jordon Tourville5, and Martin Dovciak5

1School of Forest Resources, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. 2Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720. 3Ecological Plant Geography, Faculty of Geography, University of Marburg, Marburg 35037, Germany. 4Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12203. 5Department of Environmental Biology, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY–ESF), Syracuse, NY 13210. *Corresponding author.

Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 28, Special Issue 11 (2021): 47–63

Research at sentinel research sites focuses on long-term ecological monitoring related to global environmental changes. Despite the value of sentinel research sites during the Anthropocene, the factors that drive their development, success, and sustainability are not clear. Here we study the history of Whiteface Mountain, NY—a sentinel research site in global environmental change research. We review the origins of Whiteface Mountain as a research site, its contributions to forest ecosystem science, and the factors that contributed to the location’s development, success, and sustainability. We identified 6 key characteristics that contributed to the success of Whiteface Mountain as a sentinel research site: (a) accumulation of high-quality long-term data, (b) features representative of a broad area, (c) availability of appropriate infrastructure and staffing, (d) sustained governmental and community support, (e) active communication and outreach programs, and (f) dedicated leadership. These characteristics provide a roadmap for the successful development and sustainable operation of sentinel research sites in global environmental change research.

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