Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 8:28 EDT
NEON Eco-climatic Domains Image 4
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NEON Eco-climatic Domains (Image 4)

November 10, 2011
Eradication of invasive species such as Kudzu is a research focus at the Walker Branch Watershed site, located in the Oak Ridge National Environmental Research Park, a NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) research site. 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. The NEON Appalachians/Cumberland Plateau Domain includes much of Kentucky, portions of southern Indiana and Ohio, West Virginia and a large amount of eastern Tennessee. The NEON candidate core site for the domain is located in the Walker Branch Watershed at Oak Ridge. Climate change is NEON's research focus for the region. The site also includes considerable forested areas, including oak-dominated forest.