NEON Eco-climatic Domains Image 8
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NEON Eco-climatic Domains (Image 8)

November 10, 2011
An aerial view of the Dalton Highway and pipeline looking south towards Atagun Pass in the Brooks Range, Alaska. This location is south of the Toolik Lake Field Station, a NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) research site that offers researchers access to three key areas of scientific interest: the Brooks Range, the arctic foothills and the arctic coastal plain. The Toolik Lake site has hosted extensive ecological studies since it was established by the Bureau of Land Management in 1975, including the National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program. Vegetation in the Toolik Lake area is characteristic of the tundra landscape, which represents a variety of ecosystems in mountains, foothills and the coastal plain. NEON will focus on climate research in the region, as well as permafrost and water-related monitoring. 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 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 Toolik Lake Field Station is the candidate core site for NEON's Tundra Domain.

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