Feature

Ecology's tough climb

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Science  25 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6255, pp. 1436-1441
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6255.1436

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Summary

The National Science Foundation's (NSF's) dream of building a continental-scale observatory that would monitor environmental change over decades is in trouble. The National Ecological Observatories Network (NEON), a unique string of 80-some data-collection stations spread from Alaska to Puerto Rico, is designed to bring ecology into the era of Big Data by collecting masses of information on changes in climate, land use, biodiversity, and the spread of invasive species. But NEON has suffered a series of self-inflicted and external wounds since construction began in 2011, resulting in project delays, a large projected cost overrun, and several changes in senior leadership. NSF officials have now warned project managers that they must shape up or risk being replaced.