In 1998, the USGS Global Change program funded research for a network of Long-Term Reference Ecosystems initially established in national parks and funded by the National Park Service. The network included Noland Divide, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee; Pine Canyon, Big Ben National park, Texas; West Twin Creek, Olympic National Park, Washingtona?? Wallace Lake, Isle Royale National Park, Michigan; and the Asik watershed, Noatak National Preserve, Alaska. The watershed ecosystem model was used since this approach permits additional statistical power in detection of trends among variables, and the watershed in increasingly a land unit used in resource management and planning. The ecosystems represent a major fraction of lands administered by the National Park Service, and were chosen generally for the contrasts among sites. For example, tow of the site, Noland and West Twin, are characterized by high precipitation amounts, but Noland receives some of the highest atmospheric nitrogen (N) inputs in North America. In contrast, Pine Canyon and Asik are warm and cold desert sites respectively. The Asik watershed receives <1% the atmospheric N inputs Noland receives. The Asik site is at the northern extent (treeline) of the boreal biome in the North America while Wallace is at the southern ecotone between boreal and northern hardwoods. The research goal for these sites is to gain a basic understanding of ecosystem structure and function, and the response to global change especially atmospheric inputs and climate.