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Dear Research Community:
In August, 2018, Arizona State University's (ASU) Biocollections and Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center were selected by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) leadership to be the NEON Biorepository, potentially for the full 30-year duration of the project as presently designed.
Main NEON website: https://www.neonscience.org/
Latest NEON release on the Biorepository: https://www.neonscience.org/observatory/observatory-blog/check-it-out-neon-biorepository-open-business
The NEON Biorepository is a unique collection of biological samples, for at least two reasons. First, the >100,000 samples of 40-45 types that we are receiving on an annual basis are directly tied to the research design and purpose of the project, i.e., to facilitate long-term ecological monitoring/forecasting on a continental scale. Therefore, the available specimens will be representative of populations and communities in the field and associated with high-resolution environmental data. Second - and this is not by any means exceptional but probably unusually critical or urgent - the samples are expected and need to be used now and very frequently to fulfill their scientific and societal promise.
One corollary of the latter point is that the National Science Foundation (NSF) - which ultimately funds NEON through an arrangement with the contractor Battelle - has special funding programs dedicated to using NEON data, such as "Macrosystems Biology and NEON-Enabled Science (MSB-NES)", currently with a proposal due date of February 25, 2019; and expected annually thereafter.
NSF Program page: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=503425
From page 11, an example of several sections in this program solicitation that encourage or prioritize the use of NEON Biorepository samples (context: specific review criteria): "The proposal makes substantive use of NEON data or resources, i.e. rely on data and/or samples collected by NEON, colocate field sites at NEON sites, and/or develop tools that will explicitly enhance the processing, use, and/or analysis of NEON data or collections within the context of Macrosystems Biology research questions".
In other words, the NEON Biorepository's constellation of samples is unique, and the urgent mandate and parallel allocation of NSF research funds to use the samples is also somewhat unusual.
The purpose of this posting is to encourage researchers potentially interested in using the NEON Biorepository samples to get in touch with us. To achieve that goal, we provide some basic information below. Please feel free to contact us with other questions, and we will answer and add them to the growing list. Also please note that some answers will evolve as more of the NEON Biorepository "comes online".
NEON provides general information about our scope - including samples that are not (ever) intended to be managed at ASU, here: https://www.neonscience.org/data/neon-biorepository.
Moreover, this URL https://www.neonscience.org/resources/information-researchers contains a "Start Dates of Data Product Collection by Field Site" link that specifies when sampling of what NEON data products (total ~ 180) initiated at which domain site. See https://www.neonscience.org/sites/default/files/StartDateofDataCollectionbyFieldSite.xlsx. Lastly, an overview of the 81 NEON sites is here: https://www.neonscience.org/field-sites.
Through its main data portal at http://data.neonscience.org/, NEON keeps track of any/all samples that were received by the NEON Repository (once we provide this information to that portal). In the near future we will link to/provide more information on how to to use this resource.
In addition, we are actively developing a complementary NEON Biorepository data portal, based on the Darwin Core data standard (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029715) and the Symbiota software platform (https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.2.e1114). The URL has been established at http://biorepo.neonscience.org but access is password-protected until more functionality has been developed (expected: Spring 2019). Transforming suitable NEON samples/data into Darwin Core occurrence records will in our view strongly enhance sample discoverability, distributed annotations of new research outcomes on samples, and sample data publication and integration with other biodiversity data hubs such as iDigBio or GBIF.