National Ecological Observatory Network

Beginnings, Programmatic and Scientific Challenges, and Ecological Forecasting

Authored by: Henry W. Loescher , Eugene F. Kelly , Russ Lea

Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Infrastructures

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9781498751315
eBook ISBN: 9781315368252
Adobe ISBN:


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In the United States and elsewhere, the development of large-scale scientific research infrastructure (RI) comes about from needs of the scientific community, as well as imperatives expressed in society and at high levels of government planning. In the 1990s, leaders in ecology began to express the need to address ecological theory at larger time and space domains and the need for large experiments that can elucidate unknown, nonlinear, or stochastic ecological behavior at a scale that could not be typically achieved within normal competitive grant cycles. Data were lacking to address these larger ecology “macrosystem” concepts (Soranno and Schimel 2014), and so the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) provided support to explore these notions of large-scale ecology. The idea of a large-scale ecological facility was novel and had never been done before, and the process to develop such a facility of this magnitude was a new challenge for the ecological community.

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