Abstract Detail

Biodiversity Research Collecting Is More Important Than Ever—Ushering in a Collecting Renaissance

Yule, Kelsey [1].

Collecting Natural History Specimens to Monitor Change: The NEON Biorepository as a Test Case.

Collections are currently propelling research on otherwise unobservable historical trajectories of biological responses to decades, if not centuries, of anthropogenic global change. However, sampling strategies that have resulted in the spatial, temporal, and taxonomic coverage of natural history collections were not typically designed for this purpose and can be difficult to reconcile with population, community, and ecosystem-level patterns and processes. Therefore, new infrastructure is needed in the form of biorepositories, defined here as biocollections with the explicit purpose of optimizing sample composition and processing to monitor ecological and evolutionary change. Biorepositories are charged with preserving (and redistributing for research) unconventional sample types that represent physical records of within and between species diversity, collected through systematic resampling in concert with fine-scale environmental data collection. The National Science Foundation’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Biorepository is an early test case of this collections concept. The NEON Biorepository receives, archives, and makes available over 100,000 specimens collected at 81 (47 terrestrial, 34 aquatic) sites located across the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The over 60 different collection types include environmental, microbial, plant, invertebrate, and vertebrate samples stored in conditions designed to maximize their data potential (~60% of samples stored in either ultralow or liquid nitrogen freezers). While the earliest collections began in 2012, full operation began in 2019 and is expected to continue for 30 years. NEON sampling and Biorepository archival of ground-dwelling invertebrates and small mammals are particularly strong and representative of general biorepository goals, while plant sampling is representative of a hybrid approach. As baseline diversity data do not exist for most of the NEON sites, the current strategy involves building site-level reference collections with early priorities on the most common and/or difficult to identify species. These collections include pressed herbarium vouchers of terrestrial and aquatic plants; bryophytes, lichens, and macroalgae vouchers in packets; and fluid-preserved macroalgae. In addition, multi-species bulk, “environmental” (e.g. belowground biomass, litterfall), and tissue samples are being collected and preserved in conditions suitable for long-term studies of community dynamics, genomics, and ecosystem structure and function. These plant collections unique and particularly valuable due to repeated, constrained, and consistent sampling methods and the co-location of sampling with the field collection of dozens of other high-resolution organismal and environmental datasets. In this early stage, the NEON Biorepository welcomes feedback on how best to serve the ecological and evolutionary research communities.

Related Links:
NEON Biorepository data portal
National Ecological Observatory Network

1 - Arizona State University, 734 W. Alameda Drive, Tempe, AZ, 85282, United States

stable isotope ecology
global change
climate change
Invasive species
National Ecological Observatory Network
Belowground Biomass
Foliar Chemistry
microbial ecology
aquatic plant
population dynamics
Plant Community

Presentation Type: Symposium Presentation
Session: SY2, Biodiversity Research Collecting Is More Important Than Ever—Ushering in a Collecting Renaissance
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Tuesday, July 28th, 2020
Time: 11:00 AM
Number: SY2003
Abstract ID:210
Candidate for Awards:None

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