Category: Ecology

Interns Summer in Review, Part 5: Learning (and teaching) the art of scientific investigations

It has been over two years since I was last in the woods of New Hampshire collecting invasive plant data for my undergraduate research. From then to now, I have thought little about data sets or statistical variability. Instead, I have focused on getting thirteen-year-old kids to simply grasp the concept that Earth has seasons …

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Boots on the ground for NEON Member Institution Representatives

NEON Member Institution representatives learned about NEON data collection first-hand this week during a visit the Central Plains Experimental Range (CPER), the Domain 10 core site. This site tour was part of the 2014 NEON Membership Meeting, held October 21-22 in Boulder, CO at NEON Headquarters. A group of 20 participants toured the CPER site …

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Interns Summer in Review, Part 3: What’s an Imaging Science student doing at NEON?

NEON is quite the unexpected place for an Imaging Science student to do an internship. NEON is all about Ecology, so where am I supposed to fit in here? My internship is in FIU, which is the Fundamental Instrumentation Unit. FIU is a science department whose purpose is to facilitate the instrument-based collection of abiotic …

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Spring Training in Florida

I recently returned from a week of training in Florida. No, not for baseball, but for Big Data. More specifically, how to collect samples for NEON’s Terrestrial Observation System. You know…insects, plants, soils, microbes, mammals, and pathogens. With a push of a button, you’ll be able to access data about all of these things: their …

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Big Data: Call for your words and images

Our three-part series on Big Data is an invitation to discussion.
We’re looking for YOUR best stories, essays and images related to Big Data in ecology and environmental science. We’ll highlight excerpts from our favorites here on our blog will be available within the comments of this blog.
We’re aiming to represent a range of ideas as well as cultivate deep discussions around focused subtopics. As long as it relates to Big Data and ecology/environmental science it’s fair game, but we are particularly interested in discussion of the following points:

What’s one of the biggest challenges of ecological Big Data, and how can/should we address it (or what is someone already doing to address it)?…

Creating a digital menagerie

NEON technicians will collect and identify countless insect specimens over the lifetime of the observatory. To put it into perspective, during a short prototype collection at one site over three weeks using 20 traps, we collected close to 400 ground beetles. Now imagine 40 traps collecting insects at 60 sites for several months every year …

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Reflections on remote sensing, ecology and the NEON AOP

A few summers ago, I spent my time in the field hugging trees. While I’ve been called a hippie in the past, this was hardly hippie behavior. This was research. I was an ecology Ph.D. student studying streamside forests and measuring things like the diameter and canopy heights of trees. I trudged through countless miles …

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Macrosystems Biology: How to share, manage and cite big data and team science?

Last month, I participated in the first Principal Investigator meeting of NSF’s new Macrosystems Biology program. The NSF solicits proposals to “support quantitative, interdisciplinary, systems-oriented research on biosphere processes and their complex interactions with climate, land use, and invasive species at regional to continental scales.”
The first groups of projects cover an incredible range of topics, and are embracing a wide range of research approaches. In a pre-meeting survey, projects reported using simulation models, developing new theory, fitting empirical models to multi-scaled data, analyzing paleoecological data and implementing experiments across linked networks ofsites. Almost half the groups reflected the newness of the continental-scale approach by including significant educational activities.…

Using long-term data sets to trace the impacts of environmental policy

Salmon Pond in Maine, one of the bodies of water from our study.

Just before I became a staff scientist at NEON, I and colleagues from the University of Colorado, Environmental Protection Agency, and University of Maine took a new a look at some long-term data to help answer a question that has been perplexing scientists for several decades: Why is the amount of dissolved organic matter (the stuff that gives water that brownish-yellowish tint) increasing in lakes and streams of the northeastern United States and Europe? Our study contributed to growing evidence suggesting that it’s a symptom of recovery from acid rain.…