The much-anticipated National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), which will collect data across the United States on the impacts of climate change, land use change, and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity, is becoming a reality. The National Science Foundation is funding the $434 million construction of NEON, starting with $18 million in FY 2011. NEON plans to build 62 sites across the U.S., including two in locations familiar to MBL Ecosystems Center scientists: at Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska and at Harvard Forest in Massachusetts.

“There will be lots of opportunities for collaboration and interaction with NEON,” says MBL Senior Scientist Gaius Shaver, who directs the NSF’s Long-Term Ecological Research project at Toolik Field Station. MBL Distinguished Scientist Jerry Mellilo, who performs research at Harvard Forest, just rotated off the board of NEON.

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Toolik Field Station on the North Slope of Alaska. Toolik is one of the new NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) sites. Credit: Courtesy of Jim Laundre, MBL