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NEON Ecological Network

August 3, 2010

Scientists are planning a large-scale ecological observatory network.


The Hubble telescope of ecology.…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Astronomers have the Hubble telescope; physicists have CERN’s particle accelerator. Now ecologists may soon get their own multi-million "big science" project. Ten years in the planning, it’s called the National Ecological Observatory Network – NEON for short – and it has a line item in the president’s 2011 budget. If Congress approves it, NEON will set up 62 identical study sites throughout the country and run them for decades. Aquatic team manager Heather Powell says this whole-continent observatory will help scientists address the important questions of the future.

HEATHER POWELL (National Ecological Observatory Network):
It’s a very connected world, and understanding how activities in one spot affect the environment in another spot is going to be really important.

In particular, climate change, land use, and invasive species are among NEON’s top priorities. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.