A Continental-Scale Observation System For Examining .

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TH E NAT I O NAL E CO LOG I CALO B SE RVATORY N E T WOR KA Continental-Scale Observation Systemfor Examining Critical Ecological IssuesAgriculture SystemsClimate ChangeForest ManagementInvasion BiologyUrban Ecosystems

Why NEON, Why Now?The world is now experiencing an era of rapid biological change as a result ofhuman development. Ecosystems are increasingly stressed by climate, movementof invasive species over long distances, transport of pollution in the atmosphere,and human land use decisions. Ecologists must collect the vast amounts of globaldata needed to understand, forecast, and ultimately manage the changingbiosphere and the services it provides. Analyzing these large-scale, complicatedphenomena requires measuring or manipulating stresses and measuring theirbiological responses (Fig 1) at a larger scale than ever before, and NEON has beendesigned to provide the resources to do just that.GRAND CHALLENGESCAUSES OF CHANGEClimate ChangeLand UseInvasive SpeciesMore than a decade ofdiscussion and planningby the ecological researchcommunity has led toInteractions and FeedbacksProductivity, functional diversity, soilmoisture, habitat structure, etc.RESPONSES TO tious DiseasesKEY QUESTIONS1What are the impacts of climate changeon continental-scale ecology?2What are the impacts of land usechange on continental-scale ecology?3What are the impacts of invasive specieson continental-scale ecology?4What are the interactive effects ofclimate, land use, and invasives oncontinental-scale ecology?5How do transport and mobility ofenergy, matter, and organisms affectcontinental-scale ecology?the design and datarequirements of NEON. The(Fig 1) NEON is designed to address seven Grand Challenge areas in Environmental Science thathave been translated into five key questions that frame the study of continental-scale ecology.resulting NEON frameworkwill deliver consistent,long-term observationsNEON is a user facility that provides free and openly available data and a varietyof other resources for use by the public. Science user facilities provide resourcesthat can be efficiently shared over many investigators and educators, or arecollected on a schedule,too costly for individuals or institutions to maintain. Such facilities also makearound which PI- andseriously begin to address ecology at the continental scale, the comprehensiveproject-based researchuser community to tackle new questions at scales not accessible to previouscan be built.state-of-the-science capabilities accessible to a wide range of users. As ecologistsdata, spatial extent and remote sensing technology will allow a large and diversegenerations of ecologists.

NEON FIELD SITES16 - PACIFICNORTHWESTCore SiteRelocatable SiteAquatic Site12 - NORTHERNROCKIESSTREON Site15 - GREATBASIN5 - GREATLAKES6 - PRAIRIEPENINSULA17 - PACIFICSOUTHWEST14 - DESERTSOUTHWESTNEON HQ9 - NORTHERNPLAINS13 - SOUTHERN ROCKIES& COLORADO PLATEAU10 - CENTRALPLAINS1 - NORTHEAST7 - APPLACHIANS& CUMBERLAND2- MIDPLATEAUATLANTIC8 - OZARKSCOMPLEX18 - TUNDRA11 - SOUTHERNPLAINS3 - SOUTHEAST19 - TAIGA4 - ATLANTICNEOTROPICAL20 - PACIFICTROPICAL 2011; Produced by NEON, Inc.a Continental-Scale designNEON’s measurement strategy is designed to observe both the causes ofecological change (such as climate and land use) and biological responses tochange from site to continent. NEON also coordinates operations with otherresearch, networks, and observatories. All NEON data measurements are madeconsistently across NEON sites using rigorously managed calibrations and aretraceable to national or internationally recognized standards.Integration and ScalingNEON science goals require a statistical sampling design that allows inferenceat regional and continental scales. This design unites point and processobservations with remote sensing and statistical data to develop spatiotemporal analyses and forecasts.At the site level, NEON will collect a combination of terrestrial and aquaticbiological measurements and samples as well as atmospheric, soil andwater measurements. Plot and organism-scale data will be coordinated withlandscape-scale airborne data and with existing national data sets to createan integrated system of observations. The system is intended to bridgescales from that of individual plants and stands, captured by plot and towerobservations, to that of satellite-based remote sensing.In order to collect ecological data in a strategicmanner, NEON has partitioned the U.S. into 20eco-climatic domains, each of which representsdifferent regions of vegetation, landforms,climate, and ecosystem dynamics.Each domain includes: One core site (representative of unmanagedwildland conditions) Two relocatable sites (focused on humanland management effects on ecosystems) In addition, each site may be co-locatedwith an aquatic site (focused on changes toaquatic systems over time and how they areinterlinked with terrestrial systems)Taken together, the core sites represent abaseline for ecological conditions that can becompared to one another or to the conditionsData Productsat the relocatable sites. The relocatable sites areAll site-based and remotely sensed data are collected, sent back tocurrently located to collect data on the followingheadquarters, processed and then made available through the NEON webscience themes: agricultural systems, climateportal. NEON provides openly accessible, quality-controlled data, from raw,change, forest management, invasion biologyfield-collected data to a set of integrative, multidisciplinary data products thatand urban ecosystems.address key, high-level questions derived from the Grand Challenges.

NEON provides an open access approach to its data and information productsthat will enable scientists, educators, planners, and decision makers to map,understand, and predict some primary effects of humans on the natural worldand effectively address critical ecological questions and issues.HOW NEON PROCESSESAND PROVIDES RESOURCESUsers are given completeaccess to all raw, calibrated,scaled and transformed dataproducts, as well as additionaleducational resources.4Using inputs andprocessing tools,observations are scaledto produce a range ofscaled data products.SLTAPRONEN/NSHQTSPUINStandardized scienceprotocols are used toensure that consistentobservations are collectedacross time and ALGORITHMS,MODELS, ETC.CDUWEESS I N G TOOLPUTPUTCT ODUROOCTSONDATATISENE3NCIEInputs enter NEON HQthrough a standardizedprotocol to enable thescaling of observations.DEICCISIMONAKERS

Data Products by Category and Geographic Scaledata products by cateGory and geographic TA MODELS)Biomass/Productivity/MetabolismSoil Structure/PhysicsBioclimate/Energy BalanceHydrology/EcohydrologyHabitat/Landscape StructureBiodiversity/Invasive Species/BiogeographyPopulation Dynamics/DemographyLand Use Land CoverBiogeochemistryMicrobial Diversity/FunctionAtmospheric/Air QualityPhenologyInfectious Diseases/VectorsEcological StoichiometryABOVE : NEON data products include everything from raw site-based measurements,to regional remote sensing data, to modeled outputs scaled over space and time.NEON EDUCATIONCreating data-driven educational resourcesto support and build a more informed societyScienceEngagingscientists withcontinental-scaledataFree & accessible NEON dataOnline learning modules forstudents & educatorsUndergraduate researchexperiences programInternship programNEON DATAGraduate field and analysiscourseCitizen sciencePostdoctoral researchprogramProfessionaldevelopment andtrainingMuseum projectsPublic engagementactivitiesWorkshops, seminars, coursesBuilding a moreinformedcommunitySocietyABOVE: NEON’s data-driven educational resources support a science-literate pport a scientifically-literatesocietyby gingscientists,students,citizen scientists,anddecisionmakersin exploringcitizen scientists, and decision makers in exploring continental-scale ecological questions and contributing to new scientificcontinental-scale ecological questions and contributing to new scientific discoveries.discoveries.NEON’S DATA PRODUCTS AND EDUCATIONAL RESOURCESLOCAL

NEON’s Core Systems forTerrestrial Biological SamplingAquatic SamplingNEON will quantify the impacts ofNEON will observe key physical,climate change, land use, and biologicalbiological, and chemical drivers ofNEON will observe key physical andinvasions on terrestrial ecology byecological change, as well as responseschemical climate causes of ecologicalsampling key groups of organismsto those factors, in freshwater systems.change—as well as ecosystem-level(sentinel taxa) and soil. The sentinelThese observations will further ourresponses to those causes—in terrestrialtaxa were selected to include organismsunderstanding of how aquatic systemsecosystems to advance understanding ofwith varying life spans and generationare changing and how such changeshow the structure and function of thesetimes, and wide geographic distributions(e.g., to water balance and nutrient fate)systems are changing. NEON will alsoto allow for standardized comparisonsare linked with changes in the terrestrialmeasure how these changes are linkedacross the continent.environment.to changes in the diversity and functionNEON terrestrial biological measurementsAquatic measurements will be made onwill be made on the following:the following sentinel taxa and media: Plant biodiversity Algae Plant biomass, leaf area, andchemical composition Aquatic macrophytes, bryophytes,and lichens Plant phenology Aquatic microbes Birds Isotopes Ground beetles Aquatic invertebrates andzooplankton Mosquitoes Small mammals Infectious disease Biogeochemistry Soil Microbes FishTerrestrial InstrumentMeasurementsof organisms in both terrestrial andaquatic systems.Atmospheric measurements include: Key climate inputs Bioclimate variables Chemical climate inputs Carbon cycle changes Water cycle and surface energybalanceSoil observations include: Temperature profiles Surface water and groundwater Soil moisture profiles Sediment Carbon dioxide Aquatic habitat Root growth and phenology

ObservationsAirborne ObservationsLand Use Analysis Package (LUAP)NEON will conduct annual flights over each site, building aNEON will combine its data with a series of existingrobust time series of landscape-scale changes by collectingnational data sets to provide a suite of observations ofconsistent airborne data. These airborne measurements areboth causes of change in ecosystems and responses tocollected by an instrumentation package that will providechange for continental-scale analyses. The data suitemeter-scale spatial resolution to allow measurements at theincludes existing datasets, primarily from relevant federallevel of individual organisms or small groups of organisms.agencies, on past and current land use practices as wellThis observation system is designed to measure landas economic and social data that are useful for predictionuse change; vegetation canopy biochemistry, structure,of future land use processes. It also includes basicand heterogeneity; and changes in vegetation state andcontinental-scale data on ecosystem performance derivedperformance, including the presence and effects of invasivefrom satellite remote sensing, and soils and topographicalvegetative species. The direct measurements from thedata from national databases.instrumention package are spectral radiances, LiDAR returns,and photogrammetric images. These data can be analyzed toproduce a set of critical data products: Canopy chemistry Canopy moisture Leaf area Canopy and landscape structure Canopy height Land coverSpecimens and Samples CollectionsA curated collection of organisms, key body parts oforganisms, and soils, termed the NEON Collection, will beopen to researchers for analysis, both now and in the futureas new technologies emerge. Samples and specimenscollected during regular annual sampling will be archivedat partner facilities to provide a record and reference forfuture studies of biological change. Digital collections (e.g., Diversityphotographs of live organisms) will also serve as an archive Disturbancethat should not be removed from the sites.of sensitive or rare organisms (e.g., fish, lichens/bryophytes)

BY PROVIDING A RANGE OF INTEGRATED,NEON: ARESOURCEFORTHECOMMUNITNEON:A communityRESOURCESTANDARDIZEDDATAPRODUCTS.DESIGNED TO SUPPORT THE STUDY AND FORECASTINGOFNEONCONTINENTAL-SCALEECOLOGICALIN THEU.S.Data Products byCategory &CHANGEGeographicScaleLOCALNEON serves asinfrastructure for ty to chBioclimate/EnergyBalanceand ZENSCIENCEHabitat/Landscape ology/EcohydrologySoil Structure/PhysicsNTI N E N TAL-SCOMMUNITYALACCOBiodiversity/Invasive Species/BiogeographyOPEN SOURCEPROTOCOLS TFORMSAtmospheric/AirQualityTERVAEcological StoichiometryTI O NInfectious Diseases/ParasitesTHIRDAdditional relocatablesensor Phenologyplatforms andone airborne platformwill be available for thecommunity to MOBILEMicrobial Diversity/FunctionMLand Use Land CoverBiogeochemistryNATIONAL(DATA MODELS)Continental-scale ecologyfocused resources andprograms will be available toengage the general public,educators and SAll NEON data, protocolsand samples will be freelyavailable via the NEONweb portal and specimenarchives.STARTING IN 2017 FOR 30 YEARS.THE PLANNED LIFETIME OF NEONCONCEPT & DESIGN2004-2011SITES BUILT OUT2012 - 2017DATA COLLECTION2017 - 2046NEON has been shaped by thousands of colleagueswho helped conceive, design, plan, review, andpromote NEON since its inception more than adecade ago. NEON would not exist without thecontinued contributions of expertise, time andsupport of the scientific community. NEON is fundedby the NSF Major Research Equipment and FacilitiesThis material is based upon work supported by the NationalScience Foundation under the following grants: EF-1029808,EF-1138160, EF-1150319 and DBI-0752017. Any opinions, findings,and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this materialare those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect theviews of the National Science Foundation.Construction (MREFC) Program and managed undercooperative agreement by NEON, Inc.

8 - OZARKS COMPLEX 11 - SOUTHERN PLAINS Core Site Relocatable Site Aquatic Site STREON Site NEON HQ NEON FIELD SITES 2011; Produced by NEON, Inc. In order to collect ecological data in a strategic manner, NEON has partitioned the U.S. into 20 eco-climatic domains, each of which represents different regions of vegetation, landforms,

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