Expanding NEON biodiversity surveys with new instrumentation and machine learning approaches


A core goal of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) is to measure changes in biodiversity across the 30‐yr horizon of the network. In contrast to NEON’s extensive use of automated instruments to collect environmental data, NEON’s biodiversity surveys are almost entirely conducted using traditional human‐centric field methods. We believe that the combination of instrumentation for remote data collection and machine learning models to process such data represents an important opportunity for NEON to expand the scope, scale, and usability of its biodiversity data collection while potentially reducing long‐term costs. In this manuscript, we first review the current status of instrument‐based biodiversity surveys within the NEON project and previous research at the intersection of biodiversity, instrumentation, and machine learning at NEON sites.