Harnessing the NEON data revolution to advance open environmental science with a diverse and data-capable community


It is a critical time to reflect on the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) science to date as well as envision what research can be done right now with NEON (and other) data and what training is needed to enable a diverse user community. NEON became fully operational in May 2019 and has pivoted from planning and construction to operation and maintenance. In this overview, the history of and foundational thinking around NEON are discussed. A framework of open science is described with a discussion of how NEON can be situated as part of a larger data constellation—across existing networks and different suites of ecological measurements and sensors. Next, a synthesis of early NEON science, based on >100 existing publications, funded proposal efforts, and emergent science at the very first NEON Science Summit (hosted by Earth Lab at the University of Colorado Boulder in October 2019) is provided. Key questions that the ecology community will address with NEON data in the next 10 yr are outlined, from understanding drivers of biodiversity across spatial and temporal scales to defining complex feedback mechanisms in human–environmental systems. Last, the essential elements needed to engage and support a diverse and inclusive NEON user community are highlighted: training resources and tools that are openly available, funding for broad community engagement initiatives, and a mechanism to share and advertise those opportunities. NEON users require both the skills to work with NEON data and the ecological or environmental science domain knowledge to understand and interpret them. This paper synthesizes early directions in the community’s use of NEON data, and opportunities for the next 10 yr of NEON operations in emergent science themes, open science best practices, education and training, and community building.

Publication Type
Journal Article
R. Chelsea Nagy
Jennifer K. Balch
Erin K. Bissell
Megan E. Cattau
Nancy F. Glenn
Benjamin S. Halpern
Nayani Ilangakoon
Brian Johnson
Maxwell B. Joseph
Sergio Marconi
Catherine O’Riordan
James Sanovia
Tyson L. Swetnam
William R. Travis
Leah A. Wasser
Elizabeth Woolner
Phoebe Zarnetske
Mujahid Abdulrahim
John Adler
Grenville Barnes
Kristina J. Bartowitz
Sara P. Bombaci
Julien Brun
Jacob D. Buchanan
K. Dana Chadwick
Melissa S. Chapman
Steven S. Chong
Y. Anny Chung
Jessica R. Corman
Jannelle Couret
Erika Crispo
Thomas G. Doak
Alison Donnelly
Katharyn A. Duffy
Kelly H. Dunning
Sandra M. Duran
Jennifer W. Edmonds
Dawson E. Fairbanks
Andrew J. Felton
Christopher R. Florian
Daniel Gann
Martha Gebhardt
Nathan S. Gill
Wendy K. Gram
Jessica S. Guo
Brian J. Harvey
Katherine R. Hayes
Matthew R. Helmus
Robert T. Hensley
Kelly L. Hondula
Tao Huang
Wiley J. Hundertmark
Virginia Iglesias
Pierre-Andre Jacinthe
Lara S. Jansen
Marta A. Jarzyna
Tiona M. Johnson
Katherine D. Jones
Megan A. Jones
Michael G. Just
Youssef O. Kaddoura
Aurora K. Kagawa-Vivani
Aleya Kaushik
Adrienne B. Keller
Katelyn B. S. King
Justin Kitzes
Michael J. Koontz
Paige V. Kouba
Wai-Yin Kwan
Jalene M. LaMontagne
Elizabeth A. LaRue
Daijiang Li
Bonan Li
Yang Lin
Daniel Liptzin
William Alex Long
Adam L. Mahood
Samuel S. Malloy
Sparkle L. Malone
Joseph M. McGlinchy
Courtney L. Meier
Brett A. Melbourne
Nathan Mietkiewicz
Jeffery T. Morisette
Moussa Moustapha
Chance Muscarella
John Musinsky
Ranjan Muthukrishnan
Kusum Naithani
Merrie Neely
Kari Norman
Stephanie M. Parker
Mariana Perez Rocha
Laís Petri
Colette A. Ramey
Sydne Record
Matthew W. Rossi
Michael SanClements
Victoria M. Scholl
Anna K. Schweiger
Bijan Seyednasrollah
Debjani Sihi
Kathleen R. Smith
Eric R. Sokol
Sarah A. Spaulding
Anna I. Spiers
Lise A. St. Denis
Anika P. Staccone
Kaitlin Stack Whitney
Diane M. Stanitski
Eva Stricker
Thilina D. Surasinghe
Sarah K. Thomsen
Patrisse M. Vasek
Li Xiaolu
Di Yang, University of Maryland
Rong Yu
Kelsey M. Yule
Kai Zhu