First buoy sensors installed at core aquatic sites
By Leslie Goldman
Last month, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) in coordination with staff from Ordway-Swisher Biological Station installed in-situ aquatic sensors on to buoys at the core aquatic sites Suggs Lake and Barco Lake in Domain 3 (Southeast).
Installing and anchoring in-situ lake sensors
At each lake site, NEON installs and anchors sensors on buoys and installs groundwater well sensors. At Suggs and Barco, each buoy was anchored at the deepest part of its respective lake and then fitted with underwater sensors that collect data on water composition and quality, as well as meteorological sensors that provide data on the immediate climate. Groundwater well sensors were installed within 100 meters of the water’s edge at each site, along with support structures that transfer data to NEON headquarters. Based on NEON’s sampling design, the same suite of sensors will be installed at all of NEON’s aquatic sites across the U.S., enabling scientists to study and forecast ecological change over time at local, regional and continental scales.
An orchestrated effort at Ordway-Swisher Biological Station (OSBS)
Successful installation at Suggs and Barco required a coordinated effort across much of NEON, including aquatic scientists, systems engineers and field staff, as well as significant collaboration with OSBS staff. NEON staff scientist and aquatic instrument hydrologist Charles Bohall stated, “This was truly a team effort within NEON, and we owe much to the Ordway Swisher Biological Station staff that supported us logistically, every step of the way.”
Why Suggs and Barco Lake?
OSBS is operated by the University of Florida and comprises over 9,300 acres. It is a year-round field station established for the long-term study and conservation of unique ecosystems through management, research and education. Suggs and Barco lakes are located within one mile of each other at OSBS. However, from a scientific standpoint, they are worlds apart. Suggs is a shallow surface water lake that is rich in taxa and biologically active in structure and function; Barco is a deep lake connected to ground water.
An integrated sampling design supports aquatic research
These deployments represent an exciting milestone for NEON aquatic site construction. Data streamed from these sensors will be collected continuously for the projected 30-year lifetime of NEON, providing high-quality, long-term data about aquatic environments. The in situ sensor data complement seasonal aquatic observations at these sites. In addition, a core terrestrial field site is colocated at OSBS, providing data for researchers to study linkages across atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.