NEON Eco-climatic Domains Image 9
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NEON Eco-climatic Domains (Image 9)

November 10, 2011
The Laupahoehoe wet forest unit located on the slopes of the Mauna Kea Volcano in the Hawaii Experimental Tropical Forest on the island of Hawaii is a NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network) research site. The site represents the largest native-dominated forest in the Hawaiian archipelago and contains examples of primary wet and rain forest as well as habitat for numerous endangered plant and animal species. Construction of a tower is proposed for a location in an Ohia and fern forest, with access to the site limited by steep terrain and the paucity of trails. 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 Laupahoehoe wet forest unit is the candidate core site for NEON's Pacific Tropical Domain.

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