February’s NEON Spotlight highlights three new stories demonstrating how scientists are leveraging NEON data in their efforts to expand the capabilities of ecological science. This month, we are spotlighting how NEON is helping to measure climate change effects, more accurately capture forest biodiversity, and reveal the evolutionary impact hurricanes have on fish. NEON data continue to be a crucial source in fueling and sharpening the public’s knowledge of the natural world.
This Month’s Spotlight
The latest news from NEON includes:
- NEON soil sensors help measure climate change effects
Joseph Andrews at University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) received NSF funding for his project that aims to understand how soil health affects microbiome activities over time across different ecosystems. This project will also inform research on how to mitigate climate change via soil carbon sequestration. Andrews and his team of colleagues in the Soil Science and Bacteriology departments at UW-Madison are using NEON data to examine and integrate observations made by low-cost soil measurement techniques such as soil spectral observations. This research into the microbes that influence the second largest carbon pool on Earth will contribute to our understanding of climate change.
- Researchers map tree species with new classification model
NEON data are being used to measure forest biodiversity and map rare tree species more accurately. Researchers are using a new method of taking airborne reflectance data and pairing it with computer vision models at the Ordway Swisher Biological Station site (OSBS) within NEON. The technology filters out dead trees and generates landscape species maps for over 670,000 individual living trees at the field site, creating a blueprint for capturing tree diversity. NEON data being used with this new measurement method looks to be an accurate, affordable, and accessible way to collect tree data and locate rare species in large landscapes.
- NEON data used to examine evolutionary effects of hurricanes on fish
In September 2017, two Category 5 hurricanes, Maria and Irma, passed through Puerto Rico. The hurricanes left devastation in their wake that affected the landscape and the people and animals occupying it. Researchers Shayan Saniei and Erika Crispo at Pace University are utilizing data from NEON field sites to study the impact that hurricanes have on the eco-evolution of fish. Two aquatic field sites in Puerto Rico, Rio Guilarte and Rio Cupeyes, have been collecting samples since 2014 that include information about environmental variables and fish species. Saniei and Crispo collected and compared data from four different fish species before and after the hurricanes and found that all four species’ mean length decreased after the hurricanes, with two of the species’ declines being significantly notable.
Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and operated by Battelle, NEON is a continental-scale ecological observatory network dedicated to providing high-quality, consistently generated, standardized data that is free and available to all users. By enabling scientists, researchers, and students to address critical questions and understand ecosystem changes over time, the NEON program allows the ecological community to tackle questions and problems at a scale that was not possible before.
You can read about the latest work and research in the NEON Spotlight every month at Inside Battelle, and on our social media channels. For more information about NEON, visit NEONscience.org.