The Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research (CAP LTER) program is one of 28 LTER sites funded by the National Science Foundation. Launched in 1997 along with the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES) as the first urban LTER sites, CAP LTER has been instrumental in establishing urban ecology as a recognized and important area of ecological inquiry.
Our work focuses on a metropolitan area that includes the nation’s fifth largest city, Phoenix, as well as 22 other municipalities and spans Maricopa County and a small portion of Pinal County, Arizona. We engage biological, physical, engineering, and social scientists in research that provides a foundation for understanding urban socio-ecological systems in an arid, but rapidly growing, metropolitan area.
Educating the next generation of urban ecologists is central to our mission. The Ecology Explorers program engages K-12 students and teachers, while undergraduate and graduate students are active researchers whose work is published in leading scientific publications.
CAP LTER’s research program serves as a platform from which many other research initiatives have been launched and as a model for interdisciplinary collaboration. Over $83 million in grant funding has been leveraged off of our work, and we continue to develop partnerships with individuals and institutions in the academic, non-profit, and public sectors.
Our institutional home is in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University (ASU), which houses several CAP LTER-affiliated programs, such as the Decision Center for a Desert City (DCDC) and the Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network (UREx SRN).