NEON Eco-climatic Domains Image 2
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NEON Eco-climatic Domains (Image 2)

November 10, 2011
A NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) site-visit team near the shoreline at the Guánica State Forest in Puerto Rico found Krumholtz vegetation, mature mangrove forests and a Karst limestone substrate. The forest is representative of the diverse ecosystems and life forms of the tropics--an area with significant native biodiversity that is also impacted by introduced animal and plant species. NEON's research in the area will focus on land use. NEON is a large-facility project that collects data from across the U.S. on the impact of climate change, land-use change and invasive species on natural resources and biodiversity. NEON is a project of the National Science Foundation (NSF), with many other U.S. agencies and non-government organizations cooperating. NEON has partitioned the U.S. into 20 eco-climatic domains, with each representing different regions of vegetation, landforms, climate and ecosystem performance. Each domain contains one core site representing unmanaged wild-land conditions within it and two re-locatable sites, to collect data that focuses on human land-management effects on ecosystems. Taken together, the core sites act as a baseline for ecological conditions that can be compared to one another or to the conditions at the re-locatable sites. These comparisons at both the domain and national levels will provide critical information that can be used to test ecological models and identify the impact of land-use change and invasive species on the ecology. Guánica Forest is the candidate core site for NEON's Atlantic Neotropical Domain, and will pair with NEON's Pacific Tropical Domain site at Laupahoehoe Experimental Tropical Forest in Hawaii to share a research focus on dry and wet tropical forests. NEON's Atlantic Neotropical Domain spans South Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

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