Fraser, Lauchlan H., Hugh AL Henry, Cameron N Carlyle, Shannon R White, Carl Beierkuhnlein, James F Cahill Jr, Brenda B Casper, Elsa Cleland, Scott L Collins, Jeffrey S Dukes, Alan K Knapp, Eric Lind, Ruijun Long, Yiqi Luo, Peter B Reich, Melinda D Smith, Marcelo Sternberg, and Roy Turkington
There is a growing realization among scientists and policy makers that an increased understanding of today's environmental issues requires international collaboration and data synthesis. Meta-analyses have served this role in ecology for over a decade, but the different experimental methodologies researchers use can limit the strength of the meta-analytic approach. Considering the global nature of many environmental issues, a new collaborative approach, which we call coordinated distributed experiments (CDEs), is needed that will control for both spatial and temporal scale, and that encompasses large geographic ranges. Ecological CDEs, involving standardized, controlled protocols, have the potential to advance our understanding of general principles in ecology and environmental science.