The Sevilleta Schoolyard LTER Program

Program Director: Prof. Clifford S. Crawford
Department of Biology, 167 Castetter Hall
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-1091
Phone: 505-277-3412
FAX: 505-277-0304

The Sevilleta's Schoolyard LTER Program is directed by Dr. Clifford S. Crawford, who has established our educational outreach program known locally as the 'Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program' (BEMP).

The major focus of this educational program is on the Rio Grande riparian cottonwood-forest ('bosque') corridor through central New Mexico (including the Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge).

Program Overview: The Sevilleta LTER Program has conducted a number of research studies in the Rio Grande bosque at Sevilleta NWR and other local sites, and due to its popularity with, and importance to, New Mexican populations (particularly schoolteachers and K-12 students), we have chosen this particular ecosystem in which to develop the Schoolyard LTER.

The BEMP has four main educational goals. These are to:

  1. Involve students and citizen volunteers of all ages in the coordinated monitoring of key processes and populations of the endangered Middle Rio Grande riparian forest ecosystem
  2. Enable these participants to 'learn by doing' about the natural history and ecology of the bosque near their communities
  3. Use these students and volunteers to convey to their communities an appreciation of the scientific and social significance of long-term environmental research
  4. Give the students and informed citizens an opportunity to become involved in the management of a critical environmental resource.

The BEMP uses mainly secondary school teachers and their students to collect data relevant to the long-term management of bosque functioning. Data collection occurs synchronously and according to a predetermined schedule. Thus, a given set of variables is sampled on the same date at all four current BEMP sites. The sites are identical in layout and located between northern Albuquerque and the smaller city of Belen, NM, near the Sevilleta NWR. Site specific, abiotic data collected include soil and air temperature, precipitation and groundwater depth. Biotic data include litter production, plant diversity and indicator arthropod activity. Years of restoration-related research on the bosque by UNM biologists have demonstrated the value of such data types and the relative ease of collecting them in the field.

In addition to the Director, the program is staffed by two coordinators and a data manager. The coordinators are biologists and educators associated with Bosque Preparatory School in Albuquerque, which pays the release time salary of one of them. The data manager enters the data in a UNIX system operated by the Sevilleta LTER.

Following data analysis, the data manager, in consultation with the director, will disseminate pertinent results to school classes, as well as government agencies that have managerial responsibility for the bosque and the Rio Grande; hence, the data from the Schoolyard LTER program actually is applied to real-world management issues.