About LTSER platforms

The Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research Platforms (LTSER) are part of the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) network, and are place-based transdisciplinary research infrastructures for knowledge sharing and collaboration, featuring physical infrastructure (research sites, labs, databases), community engagement on regional and global levels, and integrative management for open communication and trans-disciplinary approaches


Originally centered on ecological monitoring, a transformative shift towards transdisciplinary socio-ecological research emerged in the late 1990s, urging the integration of social science data. ILTER swiftly followed suit, emphasizing research that embraces both natural and social dimensions. In 2007, LTER-Europe took a pioneering stance, championing a transdisciplinary approach from inception, introducing LTSER platforms that seamlessly intertwine ecological and socio-cultural aspects. These platforms strive to tackle contemporary environmental challenges by synthesizing environmental and socio-economic data. European LTSER platforms extend their reach beyond specific sites, covering geographic regions that include human populations and developed areas, aspiring to represent all socio-ecological zones of Europe. Discover how this paradigm shift aligns with broader trends towards interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches in academia and environmental research networks.

The aim is to establish representative platforms in Europe, currently numbering 52 (as of May 2021), supporting ecosystem and critical zone research with tailored components based on regional characteristics.

History of Romanian LTSER platforms

Romania boasts a robust history in biological and ecological research, notably contributing to Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) platforms. Beginning with early research stations like the Botanical ecological research station in Stana de Vale/Apuseni Mountain, the country pioneered a national Institute for Speleology in 1919.

From the 1970s onwards, Romania spearheaded complex ecological research programs, initially emphasizing population/species dynamics. By the 1980s, the focus shifted to ecosystem research, covering eco-regions, structural dynamics, and the significance of biodiversity. Post-2000, research complexity expanded to include Socio-Ecological Complexes, economic valuation tools, and indices for monitoring Natural Capital.

Romania officially joined the International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) in 2001 and actively engaged in the Alter-Net project from 2004. The nation developed its LTSER network through projects enhancing institutional capacity and infrastructure in specific sites like Braila Island and Neajlov LTSER.

Romanian current LTSER platforms

In Romania, there are currently 11 LTSER platforms strategically encompassing diverse biomes, including alpine, mixed forest, agricultural, deciduous forest, and freshwater river ecosystems.

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Braila LTSER platforms

Brăila Islands Long-Term Socio-Ecological Research (LTSER) platform is located in SE Romania (44°57′ N, 28°00′ E), along 78 km of the lower Danube River, between the cities of Hârșova and Brăila. The site shared between 4 counties and is comprised of 20 territorial administrative units This socio-ecological system is inhabited by near 300,000 people and comprises heavily modified ecosystems (e.g. Big Island of Braila, former wetland transformed into agricultural land) but also systems under a natural functional regime (e.g. Small Islands of Braila).

On the Big Island of Brăila and the surrounding riverbanks, converting the land for intensive agricultural use took place during the communist period; this affected the manner in which ecosystems function downstream in the Danube Delta and the Black Sea. On the Small Island of Brăila, remnants of the formerly abundant, naturally dynamic wetlands are protected as a Natural Park, as a Ramsar site, since 2001. Moreover, these wetlands are also part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network as Sites of Community Importance (SCI) and Special Protection Areas (SPA). This is one of the few areas in Europe that remains under a semi-natural flooding regime and that is preserved on a smaller scale; the biological diversity, functions, and ES are specific to the Danube floodplain and they remain intact (Racoviceanu et al. 2023). It also contains 9 EUNIS level 1 habitats, including aquatic, terrestrial and socio-economical ecosystems.