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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida has officially partnered with a National Science Foundation-funded program to allow measurements and data collection related to the Earth’s ecological health to occur on UF’s 9,100-acre Ordway-Swisher Biological Station property in Putnam County.
The project, known as the National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON, is a 30-year, continental-scale program to track ecological responses to environmental shifts such as climate change, land-use modifications and invasive species introductions.
The project includes 20 core sites that represent different areas of North America. The Ordway-Swisher site near Melrose will serves as the core site for NEON’s Southeastern domain, which stretches from North Carolina to Texas.
“Partnering with NEON will strengthen the linkages between the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station and key ecological observatories across the continent,” said John Hayes, Ordway-Swisher director and interim dean for research in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“The data we collect in cooperation with NEON will provide a cutting-edge look at our nation’s ecological health and will help provide solutions to build a sustainable future,” he said.
In addition to generating critical ecological data, Hayes said the partnership will establish the Ordway-Swisher Biological Station as a hub for environmental research in the Southeast.
The Ordway-Swisher Biological Station provides a relatively pristine environment for long-term research, educational opportunities and conservation activities. Since its lands have had restricted access throughout most of its history, the area’s forests and wetlands are preserved in a state similar to what the first explorers and settlers found upon their arrival in Florida. This unspoiled habitat makes Ordway-Swisher a perfect place to gauge the effects of environmental change.
Data collected from Ordway-Swisher will be combined with data from other NEON sites to create a comprehensive picture of environmental change across the continent.
Studies planned for the site include measuring carbon cycling and soil and water characteristics and tracking populations of birds, mammals, insects and vegetation.
Other sites that that have recently reached land-use agreements with NEON include Harvard University’s Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, the Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory in North Dakota and Steigerwaldt Land Services in Wisconsin.
Writer Robert H. Wells, 352-273-3569, email@example.com
Source: John Hayes, 352-392-1784, firstname.lastname@example.org
The sun is low on the horizon as seen from a small lake on UF’s Ordway-Swisher property close to Melrose, Fla. UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.