The National Ecological Observatory Network

Louis F. Pitelka
Senior Visiting Scientist at NEON, Inc.

The US National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a large facility project funded by the National Science Foundation. NEON's goal is to contribute to ecological understanding and decision-making at the regional to national-scale through integrated observations and experiments. NEON will create a new national observatory network to collect ecological and climatic observations on both the drivers of change and the responses across the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. The observatory will be the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at national scales over multiple decades. NEON has partitioned the U. S. into 20 ecoclimatic domains, representing different regions of vegetation, landforms, climate, and ecosystem performance. Data will be collected from strategically selected sites within each domain and synthesized into information products that can be used to describe changes in the nation's ecosystem through space and time. The data NEON collects will focus on how land use, climate change and invasive species affect biodiversity, disease ecology, and ecosystem services. Obtaining integrated data on these relationships over a long-term period is crucial to improving forecast models and resource management for environmental changes. These data and information products will be freely and openly available to scientists, educators, students, decision makers, and the public to enable them to understand and address ecological questions and issues.