ABSTRACT

Long-term ecological research and monitoring is a critical activity that has multiple important values for research, policy and management. Yet long-term studies are not particularly common. A range of factors contributes to this relative rarity and make it hard to establish (and then even harder to maintain) long-term ecological research and monitoring. These factors include: (1) a focus on novelty in science publication and awarding of grants that disadvantages long-term studies, (2) a paucity of long-term funding, (3) a bias against the publication of place-based research in favour of short-term “newsy” articles, global syntheses and meta-analyses, (4) a loss of people with natural history skills but a concurrent increase in modellers, (5) a trend away from evidence-based management acting as a disincentive to undertake long-term research, and (6) a focus on funding equipment rather than people (who are actually the critical “infrastructure” for maintaining on-the-ground research). Those with interests in maintaining long-term research must work hard to push back against these and other problems. In particular, it will be important to more clearly and forcefully demonstrate the many values of long-term research and monitoring by highlighting both its management-relevance and policy-relevance, and ensuring that long-term data are fundamental planks in initiatives like State of Environment reporting. More effort also will be needed to overturn some of the current flaws in science culture that hinder long-term ecological research and monitoring and, at the same time, develop and then strongly advocate for innovative funding models to ensure the maintenance of existing programs and the establishment of new long-term studies.

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