April 2020
A Message from Chief Scientist & Observatory Director Dr. Mabee
This Earth Day, the world is facing an unprecedented disruption to life as we know it—NEON is no exception. With the concurrence of the National Science Foundation, on March 23 we made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend in-person and on-site NEON field operations so that all of our employees—including full-time and seasonal field staff—could work from home during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During this time, Battelle has and will continue to remotely monitor site instrumentation, provide access to robust data and offer online learning resources to students and educators. We are reevaluating the situation weekly and will resume full operations as soon as it is safe for our staff and our communities.

The world looked very different when I stepped into the role of Chief Scientist and Observatory Director at NEON only two months ago. But my goals and aspirations in this position and for the NEON program remain the same: to help advance fundamental discoveries in ecology and to enable broader use of NEON data across disciplines. This presents a unique opportunity for us at the moment: understanding the emergence of new diseases and disease transmission requires integrated studies of data from the environment and human factors. How can NEON data and infrastructure play a role in untangling and understanding these dynamics? 

On behalf of NEON, I look forward to providing the broad community of scientists and educators in academia, industry and agencies with ready access to the high-quality data necessary to address this and other complex scientific challenges of our time. I’m proud of what the program has accomplished so far, and I look forward to seeing the impacts on science and society from the use of NEON data.  

I hope that this newsletter finds you all healthy and as well as possible during this unusual time. 


To learn more about Dr. Mabee’s background and qualifications, read the full news release announcing her hire .
You can't see chipmunks, mice and voles from an airplane—especially when they are scampering beneath the forest canopy or burrowing in the ground. But a new modeling approach could allow researchers to use remote sensing lidar data to predict small mammal biodiversity based on the structure of vegetation in an area. The study was led by Sarah Schooler of State University of New York–Syracuse and Harold Zald of Humboldt State University.

Each NEON field site—even plots within a site—has its own unique combination of plant, animal and microbial species. Species traits, such as average body length or mass, also vary across geographic regions. What drives these differences? Phoebe Zarnetske, of Michigan State University, is using data from NEON sites to investigate patterns in biodiversity and species traits across the continent to better understand the drivers that influence species distributions and community assembly.

Have you used NEON data, samples or infrastructure? Please contact us about your research and we'd be happy to write a blog article featuring your work as well as add your papers to our publications list.
How does human activity impact the environment? The Mid-Atlantic Domain (02) is a great place to find out. The eastern seaboard of the U.S. has undergone massive changes and development over the last 250 years. Data from the NEON field sites in Maryland and Virginia provide a window into how land use patterns, invasive species and climate change are impacting eastern habitats and ecosystems.

On March 23rd, with the concurrence of the National Science Foundation (NSF), we temporarily suspended all activities across NEON that involve in-person or on-site work—including all domains, headquarters and airborne operations—due to the nationwide risks to health and safety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. All employees are safely working from home. Read current operational status updates .

Small mammal pathogen testing protocols for the NEON program are about to get an overhaul. The observatory is shifting the focus of Rodent-borne Pathogen Status data product from hantaviruses to tickborne diseases such as Lyme disease, anaplasmosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The new testing protocols will be piloted at five sites in 2020 in preparation for a planned rollout to all NEON terrestrial field sites in 2021. Learn more .

NEON offers a variety of tools and resources for instructors and faculty moving to online teaching. We realize that these are challenging times for our communities around the globe to delivery high quality education in novel online teaching environments. The data and resources from NEON are naturally suited for teaching ecological concepts and skills in both synchronous and asynchronous learning situations. Learn more .

The NEON program generates ecological data on an unprecedented scale. Making sense of that data often requires sophisticated analytical techniques and computer programs. But if you’re not a coder, don’t worry—open source coding resources and community-made custom programs make NEON data more accessible to the ecology community. These resources are now being compiled in the NEON Code Resources Library. Learn more .

Did you know you can put NEON research equipment and field staff to work for you? NEON's mobile deployment platform, aerial observation platform, automated sensor infrastructure and observational sampling infrastructure can be used to gather data for your research. Get started!

The workshop format will be a mix of talks and breakout sessions focused on forecasting with NEON data, engaging partners in NEON enabled forecasts, and designing a forecasting challenge using NEON data. Registration is required by May 1 .

The Workshop provides critical skills for graduate students from underrepresented experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds interested in working with multiple spatio-temporal datasets to address ecological questions. Knowledge and skills learned in the workshop apply to ecological data from many different sources, including NEON. In addition to learning how to access and work with a wide variety of NEON data, this workshop emphasizes and teaches core data science skills with a focus on reproducible methods. Learn more and sign up .

NEON Postdoctoral Fellows contribute to NEON’s scientific mission through both advancement of science and engagement of the user community. NEON Postdoctoral Fellows receive funding for a period of two years, contingent on successful performance and available funding. The Postdoctoral Fellows leverage NEON data in collaboration with NEON staff and community contributors to generate scientific outcomes and peer-reviewed publications, while engaging the scientific community in NEON data use and potentially generating new tools to facilitate use of NEON data. Learn more and apply.
Knowing how NEON’s data, samples, and infrastructure are used in research is important to measure the program’s success. Please report your publications and related projects here and learn how to cite NEON here .

Barve, V. V., Brenskelle, L., Li, D., Stucky, B. J., Barve, N. V., Hantak, M. M., ... & Folk, R. A. (2019). Methods for broad‐scale plant phenology assessments using citizen scientists’ photographs . Applications in Plant Sciences , e11315.

Bromley, G. T., Gerken, T., Prein, A. F., & Stoy, P. C. (2020). Recent trends in the near-surface climatology of the northern North American Great Plains . Journal of Climate , 33(2), 461-475.

Brumfield, K. D., Huq, A., Colwell, R. R., Olds, J. L., & Leddy, M. B. (2020). Microbial resolution of whole genome shotgun and 16S amplicon metagenomic sequencing using publicly available NEON data . Plos one , 15(2), e0228899.

Matosziuk, L. M., Gallo, A., Hatten, J., Bladon, K. D., Ruud, D., Bowman, M., ... & Weiglein, T. (2020). Short-term effects of recent fire on the production and translocation of pyrogenic carbon in Great Smoky Mountains National Park . Frontiers in Forests and Global Change , 3, 6.

Seyednasrollah, B., Young, A. M., Li, X., Milliman, T., Ault, T., Frolking, S., ... & Richardson, A. D. (2020). Sensitivity of deciduous forest phenology to environmental drivers: Implications for climate change impacts across North America. Geophysical Research Letters .