Field stations worldwide are valuable resources for the discovery of natural phenomena, education and enlightenment of students, and training of the next generation of field scientists. Field stations face the pressures of human population expansion, habitat and biodiversity loss, and changing environmental conditions, and hence are sentinels of the state of our precarious Earth. We demonstrate the importance of field stations by describing developments supported by field stations and by examining recent literature. Eleven percent of papers published in Conservation Biology and 26% of those published in Ecology were supported in some way by a field station. We review data supplied by field stations over the last 20 years about stations' ecology, dominant discipline, personnel, and infrastructure. Communication among international field stations is difficult and could be improved by the formation of more regional networks. An international network would help elevate the recognition of the importance of field stations.
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