Big and Little Science – NEON’s role in Ecology

1st PLATO Royalty Lecture in Series on Ecological Observatories

Thursday, November 10, 6-7pm, Sem 2 D 1105

Stephanie A. Harrington, Assistant Dean for Planning and Initiatives, College of the Environment, University of Washington

The field of ecology is evolving in response to an increasing awareness of the need for continental-scale monitoring and research in an era of dramatic changes in land use and other human activities and  the consequences of these changes on the biosphere. Existing monitoring programs that collect data to meet natural resource management objectives are not designed to fully address climate change and other large-scale, complex environmental challenges.

Following the lead of big science investments that revolutionized the fields of high-energy physics, astronomy, and oceanography, the ecological community has introduced the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), “the first observatory network of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales over multiple decades.” Using examples of highly collaborative research programs from other disciplines as points of comparison, Dean Harrington will describe the history, evolution and goals of NEON.  She will also discuss the science management challenges of introducing a big science approach into an informal science culture that has often been characterized by data hoarding and competitive relationships among ecologists ­ while at the same time facing significant budget reductions for federal research.

Click here for more information about the NEON Site in the Pacific Northwest, or to see all sites.

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