NEON Eco-climatic Domains Image 6
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NEON Eco-climatic Domains (Image 6)

November 10, 2011
The Santa Rita Experimental Range, located about 50 kilometers south of Tucson, Ariz., is a NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) research site that focuses on land use and climate change. Construction of a tower is planned for the site, with its creosote bush-dominated ecosystem. The range is managed by the University of Arizona and has a hundred-year history of ecological research. 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. The NEON project 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 candidate core site for the Desert Southwest Domain is located at the Santa Rita Experimental Range. The domain runs along the U.S.-Mexican border between Southern California and Texas and includes parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. NEON's emphasis in the Desert Southwest Domain is on land use, with a focus on the urban-to-rural impacts of rapid development in Phoenix and Tucson.

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