Information for Researchers

Last edited 2019-Mar-20

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), operated by Battelle, provides open, continental-scale access data that characterize and quantify complex, rapidly changing ecological processes. This page is intended for investigators interested in using NEON data, resources and infrastructure for their research proposals.

Open Access Data & Resources

NEON includes a network of 81 field sites and provides over 175 open access data products with associated protocols and documentation. Data are comparable across field sites and are collected using automated instruments, standardized observational sampling protocols, and airborne remote sensing surveys.

To explore how to use NEON for your proposed research, check out the following links:

Data Availability

Data collection during construction began at different times for every data product and every site, and data pipelines were built in parallel with early data collection. As a consequence, current data availability varies considerably by site and by data product, and many data products still have a backlog of data waiting to be processed.

Learn more about overall availability of data for each of NEON’s subsystems, the factors limiting availability, and the work now underway to complete data delivery. You can also download and explore the workbook below to better understand which data are collected from which field sites. 

Data Availablity Spreadsheet by Data Product by Field SiteThis spreadsheet indicates if a field site has a specific data product, when NEON started collecting the data and if the data are currently available on the data portal. Download the spreadsheet here.

Data Product Notice: We recently discovered that calibration information was incorrectly applied to a number of instrumented systems data products from Feb 26, 2018 to present. All potentially affected data have been removed from the data portal and will be reprocessed with appropriate calibration information. Reprocessing will likely occur throughout February. Data will be published as they are reprocessed. Learn more about what data products were impacted.

NEON Biorepository: Samples & Specimens

Thousands of specimens and samples are collected, processed and archived each field season into the NEON Biorepository. These archived materials are available by request for your research studies. Explore our Archival Samples catalog to better understand how our samples can be used for your research. Archival samples location metadata are included in associated data products. Once you download the data product, you can use the metadata in the Sample Viewer on the NEON data portal to locate the archived sample.

Archived samples are available upon request with no need for a letter of support, but PIs are encouraged to reach out to the NEON Biorepository or other archive institution prior to proposal submissions using the NEON Biorepository.

Use NEON Infrastructure for Research: The Assignable Assets Program

In addition to providing open access data and samples, NEON infrastructure may be used for additional research studies. These activities are typically outside of NEON’s day-to-day operations and must be funded by the requester.  Requests should be made through the NEON Assignable Assets program and include the following:

  • Requesting use of a Mobile Deployment Platform (MDP)
  • Requesting an airborne remote sensing survey
  • Adding sensors to NEON field site infrastructure
  • Access to NEON’s observational sampling infrastructure at field sites

Learn more

Field Site Access

NEON does not own any of the properties where our field sites are located and we have worked extensively with each site host to obtain appropriate permits and permissions to cover the scope of our data collection activities. Researchers interested in doing activities near or at NEON field sites must obtain their own access and use permits from the site host, but NEON may be able to assist with this.

Please visit each individual field site webpage from our field sites list to determine if the site hosts allow additional non-NEON research activities and to contact us about access to that particular field site.

NEON Site Research Coordination Guidelines

Read these guidelines if you are interested in learning more about how to coordinate research activities near NEON sampling locations. If you are interested in conducting research activities on NEON field sampling locations, please review the process for requesting assignable assets.


Research Proposals & Letters of Support

The NEON project does not fund research. For opportunities to propose research projects involving NEON data and resources, please contact the National Science Foundation (NSF) or other funding agencies. Information about the NEON project and related funding programs is available on the NSF NEON Project web page.

We are available to provide information about NEON infrastructure and current status to aid researchers who are developing proposals. Researchers should also work with us when selecting sampling areas so as to avoid impacts to NEON measurements and observations and to collect or process samples on behalf of investigators. NEON field operations support above and beyond routine coordination and normal workflows must be fully reimbursed by the PI or funding agency.

If a researcher seeks planned NEON data products or archival samples that are not currently available, please contact us for an estimate on when the products may become available. Please note that the potential for unforeseen delays may impact the estimated schedule.

If you are writing an NSF grant proposal for a research project that involves using NEON resources that are not openly available, such as NEON assignable assets, on-site sampling or experiments, access to specimens or samples, or other work outside NEON’s day-to-day operations, NSF requires that you include a letter of collaboration/support from the NEON Project that attests to the anticipated availability of the resources you propose to use.

Instructions for how to obtain a letter of support

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