National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)

NEON stands for National Ecological Observatory Network. The network first began construction in Spring 2012 with a goal of creating a “continental-scale research platform for discovering and understanding the impacts of climate-change, land-use change, and invasive species on ecology.” In other words, NEON will collect large amounts of ecological data across the United States and will do so for the next 30 years. The research platform for this project will include strict guidelines and protocol for gathering data so that the methods may be standardized in all planned 106 sites. Even though similar projects, such as the LTER (Long Term Ecological Research), have gathered ecological data in the U.S. for several years, NEON will be the first to do so in a standardized fashion.

Questions addressed by NEON

• How is the environment responding to human activities?
• How can we maintain our quality of life on Earth?
• Are enhancements and disruptions of ecosystem services changing our quality of life?

Where is NEON currently located?

The headquarters for the network are located in Boulder, Colorado.

More information provided by:

What data is NEON collecting and how are they collecting it?

Data relating to critical ecological issues will be collected. These issues include: agriculture systems, climate change, forest management, invasion biology, and urban ecosystems. Examples of such data would be average precipitation, fire frequency, and water quality. Some of the ways it is being collected is by field crews, information collecting towers, and calibrating sensors put into soils, streams, and planes. The collected data will later be put onto their website, free to the public, but the data is currently only available by request.

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How will this data be used? The expected users of this data are educators, scientists, planners, decision makers, and the general public. NEON’s goal is that these groups will be able to better understand ecological processes and how humans affect those processes. In addition, the greater understanding will help the groups to make more informed predictions and decisions on ecological issues.

Types of NEON sites

Sites are chosen based on their representation of a region’s vegetation, landforms, climate, and ecosystem.

Core: Sites are stationed on unmanaged wildlands

Relocatable: Terrestrial sites that are moved every 5-7 years. They collect data related to specific ecological interactions such as land use change.

STREON: These sites are located within aquatic sites and collect data specific to eutrophication, a state in which there is high nutrient content, and loss of critical species.

Aquatic: Sites collect aquatic data. They are often located near Core and Relocatable sites

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Differences between NEON and LTER

• Data will be accessible to the public through their website

• Collecting information over a 30 year period (only in the U.S.) to better understand ecological change and will provide a resource to researchers and educators

• All sites use the same infrastructure and are conducted in the same way.

• Answers a narrow set of questions across sites and landscapes

• Project-based to understand specific ecological processes over wide ecosystems.

• Infrastructure of sites is conducted on a site-by-site basis.

• Answers a wider range of questions that are unique to each site.

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How NEON and LTER work together

• Both networks are funded by the NSF

• Many LTER scientists helped found NEON

• 12 NEON sites are located on LTER sites

• They collaborate together on working teams and information

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Published Work in NEON

Quantifying the role of woody debris in providing bioenergetically favorable habitat for juvenile salmon

Andrew W. Hafs, Lee R. Harrison, Ryan M. Utz, Thomas Dunne
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2014.04.015

Integrating NEON data with existing models: An example with the Community Land Model

Edmund Hart, Andrew Fox, Steve Berukoff, Tim Hoar


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