Optimizing available network resources to address questions in environmental biogeochemistry

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2016

Author(s): 

Hinckley, Eve-Lyn; Suzanne Andersen; Baron, Jill; Peter Blanken; Gordon Bonan; William Bowman; Sarah Elmendorf; Fierer, Noah; Andrew Fox; Keli Goodman; Katherine Jones; Danica Lombardozzi; Claire Lunch; Jason Neff; Michael SanClements; Katherine Suding; Will Wieder

Suggested Citation: 

Hinckley, Eve-Lyn, Suzanne Andersen, Baron, Jill, Peter Blanken, Gordon Bonan, William Bowman, Sarah Elmendorf, Fierer, Noah, Andrew Fox, Keli Goodman, Katherine Jones, Danica Lombardozzi, Claire Lunch, Jason Neff, Michael SanClements, Katherine Suding, and Will Wieder. 2016. Optimizing available network resources to address questions in environmental biogeochemistry. American Institute of Biological Sciences. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw005.

An increasing number of network observatories have been established globally to collect long-term biogeochemical data at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Although many outstanding questions in biogeochemistry would benefit from network science, the ability of the earth- and environmental-sciences community to conduct synthesis studies within and across networks is limited and seldom done satisfactorily. We identify the ideal characteristics of networks, common problems with using data, and key improvements to strengthen intra- and internetwork compatibility. We suggest that targeted improvements to existing networks should include promoting standardization in data collection, developing incentives to promote rapid data release to the public, and increasing the ability of investigators to conduct their own studies across sites. Internetwork efforts should include identifying a standard measurement suite—we propose profiles of plant canopy and soil properties—and an online, searchable data portal that connects network, investigator-led, and citizen-science projects.

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Jill Baron
Jill Baron