Beyond the Numbers: Supporting an increasingly diverse LTER community
Mention “diversity” to most ecologists, and they start talking about species richness. Indeed, LTER leads the way investigating how biodiversity enhances ecosystem productivity, efficiency, and stability. The LTER Network has an opportunity to likewise take a prominent leadership role fostering a diverse scientific community and supporting the full inclusion and participation of all its members. This human diversity will help position LTER on the cutting edge of a constantly-evolving discipline and ensure that our science remains both relevant and robust for the next hundred years. Our thinking about the human diversity of our scientific community tends to focus on recruitment efforts, outreach to targeted communities, and programs to engage kids in ecology from a young age. When people join an LTER site, however, they need to find a scientific community that goes beyond “tolerance” and “acceptance” to actively support the full inclusion of scientists who differ in many ways from our current, unspoken, norms. It can be uncomfortable to take a look at our own practices and cultures within LTER sites and our home institutions, but it is critical that we ask what we are doing to support all people within an increasingly diverse LTER community.