July’s NEON Spotlight highlights three new studies that demonstrate how scientists are leveraging NEON data in their efforts to expand the bounds of ecological understanding. This month we are sharing stories that show how scientists are using NEON data to predict berry trends for indigenous communities in Alaska, investigate ticks and study species and occupancy-relationships. NEON data continues to be a crucial source in fueling and sharpening our knowledge of the natural world.This Month’s Spotlight
The latest news from NEON includes:
- NEON Ecologists are Forecasting Berry Futures in Alaska
Lori Petrauski, NEON’s Senior Field Ecologist, and a team of ecologists are supporting the Alaska Berry Future Project by creating and implementing a new berry monitoring protocol, as wild berries are a crucial food source for indigenous communities in rural Alaska. With the climate changing so quickly in the Arctic, there are grave concerns that berry availability could change in the future. To close research gaps and develop better predictions of berry timing and abundance, Petrauski and the NEON field staff are monitoring the fruiting and ripening patterns of five species of berries at four terrestrial field sites.
- Researchers use NEON to Investigate Ticks
Scientists analyzed NEON data on tick abundance, diversity, and pathogen infection to better understand how drivers of tick dynamics and pathogen prevalence may shift with climate or land-use change. As cases of tick-borne diseases have been steadily increasing in the USA, the potential drivers remain poorly understood within the complex disease system. Ticks are ectotherms with multi-host lifecycles, making them sensitive to changes in the physical environment and ecological community. Several outstanding questions remain in the field of tick-borne disease ecology, and NEON’s dataset provides insight into these knowledge gaps.
- Scientists Harness NEON Tools in Abundance-Occupancy Relationship Study
Abundance–occupancy relationships hypothesize that more locally abundant species occupy more sites than less abundant species. To test this theory, scientists used NEON small-mammal data to determine if species can occupy all sampled sites and found abundance–occupancy relationships are not capable of explaining substantial variation in spatial patterns of abundance, and that other factors, such as species traits and niche, are also likely to influence these relationships.
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.