Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research in Practice: Lessons from Inter- and Transdisciplinary Research in the Austrian Eisenwurzen

Simone Gingrich, Martin Schmid, Thomas Dirnböck, Iwona Dullinger, Rita Garstenauer, Veronika Gaube, Helmut Haberl, Martin Kainz, Daniel Kreiner, Renate Mayer, Michael Mirtl, Oliver Sass, Thomas Schauppenlehner, Andrea Stocker-Kiss, Martin Wildenberg

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review

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Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) is an inter- and transdisciplinary research field addressing socio-ecological change over time at various spatial and temporal scales. In the Austrian Eisenwurzen region, an LTSER platform was founded in 2004. It has fostered and documented research projects aiming at advancing LTSER scientifically and at providing regional stakeholders with relevant information for sustainable regional development. Since its establishment, a broad range of research activities has been pursued in the region, integrating information from long-term ecological monitoring sites with approaches from social sciences and the humanities, and in cooperation with regional stakeholders. Based on the experiences gained in the Eisenwurzen LTSER platform, this article presents current activities in the heterogeneous field of LTSER, identifying specific (inter-)disciplinary contributions of three research strands of LTSER: long-term ecological research, socio-ecological basic research, and transdisciplinary research. Given the broad array of diverse contributions to LTSER, we argue that the platform has become a relevant "boundary organization", linking research to its regional non-academic context, and ensuring interdisciplinary exchange among the variety of disciplines. We consider the diversity of LTSER approaches an important resource for future research. Major success criteria of LTSER face specific challenges: (1) existing loose, yet stable networks need to be maintained and extended; (2) continuous generation of and access to relevant data needs to be secured and more data need to be included; and (3) consecutive research projects that have allowed for capacity building in the past may be threatened in the future if national Austrian research funders cease to provide resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-14
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2016

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