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Understanding ecological systems on the global scale will require an increase in preplanned, long-term, multisite studies. We describe an example of this type of research--a 10-year, 28-site experiment to test the effect of substrate quality and macroclimate on long-term decomposition and nutrient dynamics.

The success of the ecological community in meeting the challenges raised by research on global change depends on at least three factors. First, interesting ideas or hypotheses are essential to attract investigators. Second, increased funding will be required in order to conduct many of the measurements needed. Finally, scientists separated by long distances must be able to communicate and coordinate activities if they are to produce comprehensive tests of hypotheses. We wish to address these logistical factors in this report, drawing from five years of experience as a broad-scale, multi-investigator team examining long-term decom­position dynamics. We feel that our experience provides an example of how such studies can be conducted successfully.