COS 24-1 - The National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Biorepository: A developing community resource for accessing organismal and environmental samples and data collected at a continental-scale
Natural history collections are rapidly being recognized as critical resources for understanding ecological change. Archival specimens allow researchers to directly observe populations, communities, and ecosystem properties over otherwise inaccessible spatial and temporal scales. The National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Biorepository is a developing resource open to the scientific community and is dedicated to providing access to samples, specimens, and related data collected by the continental and decadal scale NEON project. The NEON Biorepository is charged with archiving (and redistributing for research) unconventional sample types that represent physical records of ecological and evolutionary change, collected through systematic resampling in concert with fine-scale environmental and organismal data collection. The samples housed at the NEON Biorepository reflect the within species variation, community composition, and ecosystem properties of NEON sites over time and are preserved with methods that maximize their long-term research potential.
Fully operational only since 2019, NEON Biorepository’s sample holdings and data publishing capabilities have advanced substantially in the past year. Samples available for research now number over 300,000 and represent nearly 2,500 named taxa, as well as bulk community-level and non-organismal (e.g. soil, atmospheric deposition) samples. Newly or soon-to-be available collections include, but are not limited to, bulk frozen mosquitos, prepared small mammal vouchers, aquatic sediments, identified aquatic macroinvertebrates, and surface water and benthic microbes. Available samples can be explored and requested in the NEON Biorepository data portal (https://biorepo.neonscience.org/). The portal has new capabilities related to sample discovery, visibility, and representation of sample data and derived research products. The portal hosts sample images and ancillary data, links to published research, represents associations between samples and component taxa, and provides datasets of special interest. NEON Biorepository samples are currently involved in over 30 research projects spanning a variety of themes including macroecology, population structure, microbiomes, microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, and species interactions.