This work is a result of participating in the first NEON Science Summit in 2019 and an internship program through the St. Edward's Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4) funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) award under grant number 1832282. The authors acknowledge support from the NSF Award 1906144 to attend the 2019 NEON Science Summit. Additionally, the authors acknowledge support from the NSF DEB 1926568 to Sydne Record, NSF DEB 1926567 to Phoebe Zarnetske, NSF DEB 1926598 to Marta A. Jarzyna, and NSF DEB 1926341 to Jalene M. LaMontagne.
Understanding patterns and drivers of species distribution and abundance, and thus biodiversity, is a core goal of ecology. Despite advances in recent decades, research into these patterns and processes is currently limited by a lack of standardized, high-quality, empirical data that span large spatial scales and long time periods. The NEON fills this gap by providing freely available observational data that are generated during robust and consistent organismal sampling of several sentinel taxonomic groups within 81 sites distributed across the United States and will be collected for at least 30 years. The breadth and scope of these data provide a unique resource for advancing biodiversity research. To maximize the potential of this opportunity, however, it is critical that NEON data be maximally accessible and easily integrated into investigators' workflows and analyses. To facilitate its use for biodiversity research and synthesis, we created a workflow to process and format NEON organismal data into the ecocomDP (ecological community data design pattern) format that were available through the ecocomDP R package; we then provided the standardized data as an R data package (neonDivData). We briefly summarize sampling designs and data wrangling decisions for the major taxonomic groups included in this effort. Our workflows are open-source so the biodiversity community may: add additional taxonomic groups; modify the workflow to produce datasets appropriate for their own analytical needs; and regularly update the data packages as more observations become available. Finally, we provide two simple examples of how the standardized data may be used for biodiversity research. By providing a standardized data package, we hope to enhance the utility of NEON organismal data in advancing biodiversity research and encourage the use of the harmonized ecocomDP data design pattern for community ecology data from other ecological observatory networks.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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Li, D., Record, S., Sokol, E. R., Bitters, M. E., Chen, M. Y., Chung, Y. A., ... & Zarnetske, P. L. (2022). Standardized NEON organismal data for biodiversity research. Ecosphere, 13(7), e4141.