Frequently Asked Questions about LUQ

How do I get Involved?

Interested in getting involved with long-term ecology research and education at LUQ LTER? We suggest first browsing our our FAQ’s, then filling out the Get Involved form linked here:

Who and what is LUQ LTER?

LUQ is a broad group of researchers, students, educators, and collaborators from multiple institutions in Puerto Rico, mainland US, and other countries. We conduct ongoing research focused on ecological disturbance as part of the LTER Network. LUQ is managed by a Lead PI and Co-PI’s from multiple universities and the USDA IITF, and supported by staff based at the University of Puerto Rico. For more information on our members visit our People and Collaborators & Partners pages, or for LUQ staff see our Contact Us page.

LUQ serves as a platform for long-term ecology research and education in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo Mountains, and collaborates with many academic institutions, government agencies, and other entities. Major research sites include El Verde Field Station, Sabana Field Research Station, Bisley Experimental Watersheds, and Pico del Este.  In addition to research activities, LUQ can also provide information, facilitate communication, and assist with permitting processes for individuals interested in conducting research and educational activities in the Luquillo Experimental Forest. 

How do I learn more about LUQ research?

As a first step you can explore the research approaches, datasets, and publications available on this website. You can also read our proposals to the National Science Foundation or summary materials by area of interest. Some key findings, synthesis work, and broader impacts are summarized here.

To learn about current activities you can join our listserv (join using Get Involved link above), where you’ll find out about meetings, seminars, and other opportunities. You can also attend our annual meeting to see research presentations and updates from our education team. For details fill out the Get Involved form linked above.

What You Need to Know About Visiting Puerto Rico for the First Time?

Holiday Celebrations: Christmas is a very big deal in Puerto Rico, extending all the way through Three Kings Day. Visitors are often surprised that many businesses remain closed until January 11th, so plan accordingly.

Language: Spanish is the primary language spoken, although many people also speak English. It’s always appreciated if you try to use some Spanish phrases.

Respect Local Customs: Please be considerate of your hosts’ time. Many locals do not work on weekends, so plan your activities and interactions with this in mind.

Health Concerns: There’s no need to worry about diseases when visiting Puerto Rico. The island is generally safe and healthy for tourists.

Shipping and Supplies: Shipping items to Puerto Rico can take a long time, often a minimum of three weeks for Amazon deliveries. Anything hazardous can take 2-4 months to get through customs. It’s advisable to plan ahead and have everything you need 2-4 months before your trip. Consider buying things and flying with them if possible.

Materials and Supplies: Finding specific materials can be challenging, so come prepared. We have limited climate-controlled storage, meaning your items will be in the hot, humid tropics and may degrade more quickly. There’s also limited space in a clean, dry environment.

Transportation: You may need to rent a car, as you can’t rely on Uber for all your transportation needs on the island.

What opportunities are there for getting involved?

People collaborate with LUQ in a variety of different ways. Co-PIs and Associate researchers are scientists who engage with LUQ on either an individual or collaborative project. Graduate students and motivated undergraduates work with Co-PIs or Associate Researchers on LTER-related projects. Undergraduates can participate in our summer REU program. Interns are hired for short-term LUQ research projects such as tree and seedling censuses or field experiments and typically live on site. We also welcome volunteers interested in assisting with research, management, administration, or maintenance capacities. 

External researchers are scientists or graduate students not associated with LUQ research groups, but interested in conducting studies at LUQ sites. Contact us directly to discuss permission, site selection, and other logistics.

If you’re interested in working with or at LUQ or would just like additional information follow the Get Involved link above.

Can I attend regular LUQ meetings?

LUQ “monthly meetings” are open to all scientific researchers and educators. This includes undergraduate and graduate students! Meetings are announced via the LUQ listserv and generally include research presentations by LUQ members or invited guests, followed by business items.

Where can I view long-term datasets?

The Luquillo LTER has a rich data catalog you can browse. For more information about our data catalog contact A list of ongoing long-term datasets can be found here. For more information on using LTER data see network guidance here.

LEF.. LFDP.. LTEP.. QPB.. CTE.. TEE.. help?!
These are acronyms for the Luquillo Experimental Forest (coterminous with El Yunque National Forest) and various LUQ field projects. You can find short descriptions in the story maps on our homepage and GIS data page (which includes some historical projects). To dive in further see the Research Approaches page.

Who do I contact if I want to start a research project at a LUQ LTER site? 

See the link above for getting involved with LUQ, or contact us directly. Research requests are received by our Program Manager Juan García-Cancel ( and evaluated by the LUQ management committee.

Do I need a permit?

All research in the Luquillo Experimental Forest must be conducted under a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Whether your research is permitted through Luquillo LTER’s permit covering many activities in El Verde Research Area or requires additional permitting from the Forest Service depends on the subject, geographic area, and level of disturbance. 

In addition, any projects involving vertebrate handling require an IACUC permit from UPR or another university and plant or animal collection requires a permit from Puerto Rico’s DNER (for information on DNER permits contact Marylin Colón, Permit approval takes time and applications should be submitted as early as possible.

What field and lab facilities are available? What about housing?

LUQ Facilities are located in El Yunque National Forest (coterminous with the Luquillo Experimental Forest, LEF) and operated by the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras (UPR) and the USDA International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF), both of which are based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

The UPR operates El Verde Field Station and Research Area in the northwest part of the forest, while IITF operates the Sabana Field Research Station in the northeast. Both are headquarters for collaborative projects within LEF and provide infrastructure for field and laboratory research and dormitory-style field housing. Additional research sites affiliated with LUQ include the Bisley Experimental Watersheds, and Pico del Este.
For specifics or to inquire about their use, visit the El Verde and Sabana facilities pages. Due to infrastructure challenges, not all housing facilities are available at this time, and requests must be made well in advance.

What do I need to know about field safety?

We have developed a Field Safety Guide in English and Spanish (also linked on the homepage of this website). We recommend keeping a screenshot of the first few pages readily accessible on your phone in case of emergencies while visiting LUQ.

Note that crews are responsible for their own safety. Supervisors and crew leaders should be familiar with potential field hazards and emergency procedures, and aware of medical conditions and emergency contacts for their field teams. Every crew should carry their own first aid kits. Cell phone service is intermittent at El Verde and poor at Sabana. Those with field sites farther from field stations should consider alternative communications, carry a map and compass, review what to do if you get lost in the forest (see guide), and be particularly aware of the threat of flash floods (see guide). 

Working in groups is recommended whenever possible. If working solo, be sure to let others know when you are entering and leaving the forest and where you’ll be working. Be sure to follow visitor and sign-in procedures at field stations.

Are field sites and stations open to the public?

Luquillo Experimental Forest overlaps in boundaries with El Yunque National Forest and is open to the public. Certain activities require passes or permits. This includes recreational visits to La Mina Recreation Area on the northern side of Rt. 191, but not other public areas on Rt. 186 and Rt. 988.

El Verde and Sabana Field Stations and associated research areas operate under special-use permits for scientific research purposes and do not contain public visitor facilities. Permitted uses may cover some activities proposed by external researchers. For inquiries and information about access to and use of field station facilities, please contact  staff through their websites.

Who do I contact if I have a media request?

If you are interested in covering LUQ science, scientists or field sites please indicate your plans in the Get Involved form linked below.

Can I bring students to LUQ field stations or research sites?

Due to infrastructure challenges we are currently not receiving overnight visitors or large groups. Small groups may request a visit during working hours, Monday through Friday, by filling out the form below.

What should I bring or wear for a site visit?

We recommend wearing sturdy hiking boots or rubber boots, lightweight field pants, and a long-sleeved shirt, and packing a raincoat and water bottles. Suggestions for your backpack include a plastic bag to keep your phone dry, lunch in a waterproof container, sunscreen, insect repellent (except for those working in streams), and a headlamp or flashlight. Those coming for longer should contact LUQ staff for what to bring for overnight stays and recreational activities.

How do I get Involved?

Just complete our get involved form: