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National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)


Name Email Phone Room
Elizabeth  R. Blood eblood@nsf.gov (703) 292-8400  675.01  


Project Description

The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is a continental scale research instrument consisting of geographically distributed infrastructure, networked via cybertechnology into an integrated research platform for regional to continental scale ecological research.  Cutting-edge sensor networks, instrumentation, experimental infrastructure, natural history archive facilities, and remote sensing will be linked via the internet to computational, analytical, and modeling capabilities to create NEON's integrated infrastructure.

NEON will transform biological research by enabling studies on major environmental challenges at regional to continental scales. NEON will enable research on the impacts of climate and land use change, water use, and invasive species on the Nation's living ecosystems at temporal and spatial scales that are relevant to human well-being.  NEON will be the first research platform and the only national experimental facility specifically designed to enable basic research in these areas.  Scientists and engineers will use NEON to conduct real-time ecological studies spanning all levels of biological organization and temporal and geographical scales. NSF disciplinary and multi-disciplinary programs will support NEON research projects and educational activities. Data from standard measurements made using NEON will be publicly available.


Principal Scientific Goals

NEON will provide nationally networked research, communication, and informatics infrastructure for collaborative, comprehensive and interdisciplinary measurements and experiments on regional to continental scale biology. NEON will provide infrastructure to enable hypothesis-driven basic biological and ecological research, with data and high-level data products available in close to real-time.  NEON will combine site-based data with remotely sensed data and existing continental-scale data sets (e.g. satellite data) to provide a range of scaled data products that can be used to describe changes in the nation's ecosystem through space and time. NEON's synthesis, computation, and visualization infrastructure will create a virtual laboratory that will permit the development of a predictive understanding of the direct effects and feedbacks between environmental change and biological processes.


Principal Education Goals

NEON will be a platform for experiential learning and biosphere literacy. NEON will create innovative learning environments and pathways for students and foster integration of research and education through institutional and multi-institutional networking, partnerships, alliances, and collaborations. NEON's research and communication infrastructure will enable public dialog, education of policy and management decision makers, and the development of workforce skills and life-long career opportunities. NEON's Citizen Science Program will be an integral bridge between science, education, and public awareness. NEON will forge new disciplinary alliances and push interdisciplinary scientific, information, and technological frontiers, and thus will create education and training opportunities leading to new career paths.


Current Status

The Headquarters in Boulder, CO houses the NEON scientists, engineers, and education staff and includes the NEON Data Center, Engineering Support Laboratories, Airborne Observation Technical and Flight Support, Warehouse, and Construction Project Office. Domain support facilities are being established in 18 states to provide distributed support for the NEON infrastructure Construction is fully underway across the US. Two Airborne Observation Platforms have completed their initial pathfinder missions and have begun supporting early science. Project Budburst engages the public in the collection of important ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants (plant phenophases). Thousands of people from all 50 states are participating and have generated a robust data set that is available for use by scientists and educators to increase understanding of how plants respond to environmental change. The NEON Citizen Science Academy is a hub for courses, modules, and tutorials designed to help implement Citizen Science programs in educational settings and provide professional development courses in phenology.



The projected length of the project is five years, covering six fiscal years, with a six-month schedule contingency.  The risk-adjusted cost of $433.72 million includes a contingency budget of 19 percent.

The funds requested will support:

  • Continuation of civil and facility construction and instrumentation deployment in the next sites in the construction schedule;
  • Instrumentation deployment and site commissioning;
  • Biological sampling and analysis activities will commence in all constructed and accepted Observatory sites;
  • Stream Experimental and Observatory Network (STREON) site construction and pre-manipulation sensing and measurements will continue;
  • Continuation of the NEON cyberinfrastructure hardware and software in support of site construction, commissioning, and acceptance;
  • Transitioning of the Level I-III ecological data products for sites to operations, which will be made available to the research community;
  • Delivery of the first NEON Airborne Observation platform to Observatory operations.


Operations and Maintenance

Funding was provided for management and operations in FY2014 for the sites commissioned, including related management and technical support, seasonal biological sampling, and domain facilities costs.  Funds will also support headquarters functions, including the Calibration & Validation Laboratories. Data will be provided via the NEON Portal to support early NEON science.


NSF Contact Information
Dr. Elizabeth Blood, Program Director, BIO OAD, 703-292-8400, eblood@nsf.gov.

Montona Futrell-Griggs, Project Manager, BIO OAD, 703-292-8400, mfutrell@nsf.gov.

Robert Paulos, Program Director, BIO OAD, 703-292-8400, rpaulos@nsf.gov.

Related Web Sites
NEON Home Page - http://www.neoninc.org/



MacroSystems Biology

Research Coordination Networks (RCN)


NSF Discoveries Article on NEON

TERN-NEON Partnership

Archival NEON Environmental Assessment Information

Archived Webcast of NEON Prospective PI Meeting

Press Release 11-157 NSF Awards Construction Funding to National Ecological Observatory Network


Current Activities: no longer receiving proposals - EF


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