Using phenocams, Dr. Alesia Hallmark saw rhythmic and predictable branch movement in creosote bushes in New Mexico—even in dead branches. Now, she's looking through NEON phenocam data to see if she can document the phenomenon in other sites and species. Her results could upend common assumptions about movement—or lack thereof—in woody species.
In July 2021, more than 680 people across the world came together for a virtual summit on data science and aquatic research. The four-day "Hacking Limnology" Workshop Series, organized by AEMON-J and DSOS, explored applications for remote sensing, machine learning, numerical modeling and "Big Data" in aquatic ecology. The NEON program put together a one-day workshop introducing researchers to our open data products in aquatics.
As 2021 comes to a close, we want to highlight the exceptional work delivered this year by the National Ecological Observatory Network. Here are some of the most exciting news items involving the NEON program over the past year.
One of the hallmarks of the scientific method is that when new evidence comes to light, previously held assumptions must be reassessed. That is true of the NEON program, as it is for any scientific endeavor. That's why we work closely with scientific experts in the community, continually examining methods with the goal of maintaining the high standards of data quality, continuity, and repeatability required for good science.
More than 60% of the over-100,000 physical samples from NEON field sites collected each year need to stay frozen. A 4000 square foot renovation to the NEON Biorepository at Arizona State University, completed in August 2020, ensures there will be plenty of cryostorage for the 30-year life of the program.
Following the data notification published on November 17, 2020, NEON suspended production of the Canopy Nitrogen, Canopy Xanthophyll, Canopy Lignin and Total biomass data products, and removed already published data products from the NEON data portal.
In August 2021, Domain 09 (Northern Plains) welcomed ten students from regional Tribal colleges and universities, along with some of their parents, for a day of hands-on activities and exploration at two NEON field sites. The day was planned in collaboration with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
We recently asked Hawaii-born NEON Senior Field Ecologist Shea Uehana to share about his work with the ecological project, his path into the field of ecology, and how his background informs his current work.
Dr. Laura Meredith is working at NEON sites in Alaska to validate the use of carbonyl sulfide as a tracer molecule to better estimate of the amount of carbon taken up by plants. Her study was made possible through the NEON Assignable Assets Program and an NSF award.
NEON's Ambassador Program is envisioned to empower and connect researchers and educators who are eager to engage with their communities. They will help their communities use NEON to accelerate scientific discovery, enhance educational opportunities, increase diversity and inclusion of the scientific community, and/or inform public policy. The inaugural cohort of NEON Ambassadors will contribute to a community-driven design for the new program.
A new study by Hakkenberg and Goetz uses NEON lidar and field observations to explore how climate mediates biodiversity-structure relationships (BSRs) across the U.S. Their findings could help improve biodiversity maps created with remote sensing data and better predict the impact of habitat degradation and climate change on biodiversity across disparate regions.
The rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range is home to 20 wilderness areas; two national monuments; and Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks. They also host all five of the NEON field sites in D17, the Pacific Southwest. The sites are located across the largest elevation gradient in the Observatory, providing a unique opportunity to collect data from the foothills to the higher elevations.
In August 2021, NEON partnered with DeLeaves again (first collaboration in 2019) for a campaign at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) field site to validate the scalability of a drone technique for sampling foliage from tall canopies.
NEON is committed to improving the quality of data we provide to the user community. After receiving feedback from users, and in consultation with the Aquatic Technical Working Group, we are moving forward with changes to the Water quality (DP1.20288.001) data product.
NEON recently reviewed and corrected land cover maps for five field sites using data collected by the Airborne Observation Platform and analyzed by NEON staff scientists. The new maps provide a more accurate view of land cover distribution at the sites and will be used to inform changes to our spatial sampling design.
The first set of tick-borne rodent pathogen data from the 5 pilot sites tested in 2020 are now available on the portal. Beginning in 2021, observatory-wide rodent pathogen testing will be for tick-borne pathogens, and data will be available through the rodent pathogen status, tick-borne data product. Prior to 2020, all of the rodent pathogen tests are for hantavirus and are available in the rodent pathogen status, hantavirus data product.
NEON biological sample data can now be found in the Global Biodiversity Information Facilities (GBIF) network. The partnership allows NEON data to be discovered and used alongside similar historical and global datasets, benefiting both current NEON data users and the international science community at large.
Community members in northern Wisconsin are learning how they can help monitor and control the spread of invasive plant species in their local area. A workshop organized by Ashley Spink, a senior field ecologist for the NEON program, was supported through NEON's partnership with the Thriving Earth Exchange program.
Cheat sheets provide a quick reference for functions, naming conventions, data formats, and other rules for using a code package. For new users of the package, we still recommend starting with the tutorials, but experienced users who need to check their function calls or look up details can get information quickly from the cheat sheet.
The plains of Texas and Oklahoma are home to rolling grasslands, expansive croplands, and more than 10 million head of cattle. In the Southern Plains (Domain 11), agriculture reigns supreme. Understanding how land management decisions and agricultural practices impact ecosystems is key to both maintaining agricultural productivity and protecting native habitats.
NEON's non-core field sites are not any more relocatable than the core sites. To better reflect the scientific intent of these sites, and with the concurrence of NSF, the NEON program is changing their terminology from "relocatable" to "gradient" sites.