AIBS tapped to coordinate design of ecological observatories

The scientific community's work to create the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) enters a new phase today. With a two-year, $6 million cooperative agreement between the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and the National Science Foundation now in place, the NEON Design Consortium and Project Office will be set up to develop a blueprint for the network and a plan for its implementation. NEON will be the first national ecological observation system designed to answer scientific questions at regional and continental scales and thus enable ecological forecasting.

Just as the nation's network of meteorological stations allows scientists to predict changes in the weather, NEON will make it possible for scientists to predict changes in the nation's ecosystems and their consequences, according to Bruce Hayden, professor at the University of Virginia and principal investigator for the project. At NEON facilities across the country, researchers from various disciplines will work together to improve scientific understanding of several "grand challenge" research areas, including the ecological implications of climate change; the relationships between biodiversity, species composition, and ecosystem function; the impacts of land use and habitat alteration; the ecology and evolution of infectious disease; the causes and consequences of invasive species; the ecological implications of biogeochemical cycles; and hydroecology. NEON will transform the way ecological research is conducted by bringing ecologists and engineers together with social, computer, and earth scientists to investigate important ecological phenomena across large geographical areas and long periods of time, and by creating new collaborative environments across multiple scientific disciplines. The network will also provide unique educational opportunities for students and the public alike.

A 10-member Senior Management Team will lead the consortium's suite of committees

Contact: Rina Aviram, Science Associate
202-628-1500 x231
American Institute of Biological Sciences

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