July 2020
A Message from Chief Scientist & Observatory Director Dr. Mabee
It has now been four months since NEON originally halted in-person operations and we began to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic – the unusual and extenuating circumstances stretch on. All over the world, the ongoing pandemic has limited the ability of ecologists to get to the field, collect samples, and check instruments. Thankfully, many of our Domain facilities and field sites have partially reopened, including our Airborne Observation Platform.

NEON Program Leadership meets weekly to review plans for safely returning to facilities at specific locations. We take into account government guidelines, local infection trends, local hospital capacity, local availability of PPE and supplies, and the local operational plan before approving any change in operational status – limited operations, maintenance-only, or closed. Safety of our employees is paramount in these reviews. You can find the latest Observatory Status information and details on our website.

One significant effect of the ongoing pandemic is that large scientific meetings – including this year’s Ecological Society of America (ESA) conference – have gone virtual. It is an unprecedented effort to hold such a large conference completely online, and it’s shaping up to be as engaging as ever.

So, if you are attending the virtual ESA Annual Meeting next week, we’re excited to join you! There will be many NEON-led or NEON-related events at ESA2020. I'm also happy that we are able to hold a virtual welcome and networking event for the 2020 NEON-ESA Early Career Scholars (NECS) program. You can find all NEON-related topics in the ESA program, or you can use our own portal for NEON events at the conference.

Once again, I hope that this newsletter finds you healthy and as well as possible! 

NEON at ESA2020, Aug 3-6
Ther e will be over 20 NEON-led events at the virtual Ecological Society of America's Annual Meeting, and many more talks that showcase the use of NEON data. Due to this year’s virtual format, many of the events will consist of a recorded presentation that can be accessed anytime during the meeting, and a 30-minute virtual live Q&A session.

NEON staff are assisting with the virtual Data Help Desk , a collaboration of ecological data repositories and data specialists to engage meeting attendees with questions, comments, and concerns using data repositories in research.

In addition to being a Gold Sponsor of ESA2020, we'v e made it easy to find everything NEON-related happening at the 3,600-attendee conference:

Explore daily NEON events at ESA, videos, quick links, and find other resources on our website
Visit our virtual exhibit booth and search the official ESA2020 meeting program for everything NEON
After ESA, join us for an AMA-style webinar with Paula Mabee and NEON scientists August 12, 2020
NEON is now on Instagram!

We look forward to sharing images from across the Observatory with you.

Follow us on Instagram here , or search for @neon.sci
Jeffery Cannon, a Forest Management Scientist at The Jones Center, is using remote sensing data from the NEON program to understand how longleaf pine forests are impacted by and recover from major weather events. He and his colleagues will use the results to develop tools to help forest managers plan restoration and conservation efforts.

Andrew Fricker, an assistant professor at California Polytechnic State University, thinks that a neural net—a form of artificial intelligence (AI)—could deliver faster and more accurate information about plant species composition and abundance. Andrew used remote sensing data from the  NEON Airborne Observation Platform (AOP)  to train a neural net to classify tree species in a Sierra Nevada forest. 

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.
From the glaciers of Glacier National Park to the geysers of Yellowstone, the Northern Rockies Domain (D12) is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in the U.S. Sprawling across 290,000 km2 (112,000 square miles) of western Montana, Idaho, and northwestern Wyoming, the Domain boasts more than 20 national parks and forests and millions of acres of protected wilderness. 

NEON resumed limited operations at select sites on May 18th, with required PPE, temperature checks, and other safety precautions in place for staff and surrounding communities. Additional sites are expected to open over the coming weeks. NEON Leadership is continually assessing conditions across the Observatory and has reinstated closures where changes in local conditions (i.e., government guidelines, local infection trends, local hospital capacity, and/or local availability of PPE and supplies) indicate increased risk. Read current operational status updates .

Over the next few weeks, you will notice that we’re freshening up our website to make it easier for you to find the information and data you need. Not only will the website look and feel more modern, but we are also updating many sections with the most current information and adding new webpages. Learn more.

The NEON program has now made data from its 47 flux towers available through the  AmeriFlux  data portal. This will allow researchers to synthesize data from the NEON flux towers with data from other towers across the AmeriFlux network. The data integration (described in a recent  white paper ) will also enable derivation of higher-level data products that are not currently available through the  NEON Data Portal . Learn more.

The NEON program collects plant phenology data—that is, observations about the timing of biological events—at terrestrial and aquatic field sites across the continent. A partnership with the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) has  now made these data available  through the USA-NPN data access and visualization tools. 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!

Join us for an "ask-me-anything" (AMA) style, interactive webinar with Paula Mabee and NEON scientists. If you have follow-up questions after attending the virtual ESA 2020 meeting, or if you want to learn more about how NEON is designed and what it has to offer, Paula and a panel of NEON staff will be ready to answer your questions. The webinar will start with a short overview presentation (5-10min) about NEON, and the rest of the hour will be opened for questions from the live Q+A box from participants. Registration in advance is encouraged Learn more and sign up .

The Life Discovery - Doing Science Education Conference is a collaboration among the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the Botanical Society of America (BSA), and the Society for the Study of Evolution. This conference highlights the leading science, curriculum design and implementation, and data exploration in research-rich biology education for high school and undergraduate students. The theme of this year's conference is  Pushing Past Barriers: Ecological Science for All . This theme focuses on ensuring that ecology is relevant to all students in the new decade. Learn more and sign up .

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 .

The Entomological Society of America will be holding its annually meeting virtually from November 16th to 19th. The virtual conference will combine four days of live-streaming with two weeks of on-demand content. Live-stream content will be available November 16-19 and on-demand content will be available November 11-25. The virtual platform will have built-in opportunities for networking and building community. The submission deadline for presenters to submit their papers, posters, infographics has been extended to August 31.  Learn more here .

With support from the NSF, the Ecological Research as Education Network (EREN) and NEON have teamed up to create a set of course-based undergraduate research experiences in ecology. Each of these projects will combine hands-on data collection, which can be completed on campus or remotely, with analysis of relevant continental-scale public datasets, including NEON data. Materials for instructors and students will be easy to follow, allowing participation by those with no prior experience with the topic. Training webinars will be hosted for these projects during the week of August 10th and recordings made available for those that cannot attend in person . The EREN-NEON team is preparing four projects with all final materials available by September 1st for implementation in fall 2020 courses L e arn more here .
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 .

LaRue, E. A. et al. 2020. Compatibility of Aerial and Terrestrial LiDAR for Quantifying Forest Structural Diversity . Remote Sensing 12, 1407. DOI: 10.3390/rs12091407

Xu, K., Sühring, M., Metzger, S., Durden, D. & Desai, A. R. 2020. Can Data Mining Help Eddy Covariance See the Landscape? A Large-Eddy Simulation Study. Boundary-Layer Meteorology 176, 85 - 103. DOI: 10.1007/s10546-020-00513-0

Jeliazkov, A. et al. 2020. A global database for metacommunity ecology, integrating species, traits, environment and space . Scientific Data 7. DOI: 10.1038/s41597-019-0344-7

Weinstein, B. G., Marconi, S., Bohlman, S. A., Zare, A. & White, E. P. 2020. Cross-site learning in deep learning RGB tree crown detection . Ecological Informatics 56. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoinf.2020.101061
Dorji, T. et al. 2020. Impacts of climate change on flowering phenology and production in alpine plants: The importance of end of flowering . Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 291. DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.106795

Preston, D. L., Sokol, E. R., Hell, K., McKnight, D. M. & Johnson, P. T. J. 2020. Experimental effects of elevated temperature and nitrogen deposition on high-elevation aquatic communities. Aquatic Sciences 82. DOI: 10.1007/s00027-019-0678-4