Public Release: 

NESCent helps to build a global digital data network for biology and the earth sciences

National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

DURHAM, NC - The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center is now part of a major new digital data initiative that will improve the ability of scientists, policymakers and the public to monitor the status of Earth's biota and the environment.

Named DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth), the initiative aims to provide secure and permanent access to data in biology and the earth sciences, including atmospheric, ecological, evolutionary, hydrological, and oceanographic sources.

"The goal is to provide access to data that are currently in many different institutions and in many different formats," said Dr. Ryan Scherle, who oversees NESCent's digital data efforts.

Dozens of institutions have partnered to make DataONE a reality, including academic and government data centers, research libraries, citizen science programs, and international affiliates. "We have more than ten different repositories that are planning to join the DataONE network," said Scherle. "One of our largest challenges is getting the technology up to speed so that they can all communicate."

"NESCent is a natural partner in this ambitious effort," said Dr. Todd Vision, Associate Director of Informatics at NESCent. "Evolutionary research provides unique insights into modern environmental challenges. Historic range expansions can be used to forecast the impacts of invasive species, and past responses of ecosystems to climate change can help us to predict what the range of consequences will be. But first, researchers need to be able to combine data from many different sources. "

The initiative is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation DataNet program, and is headquartered at the University of New Mexico. The project is slated to cost $20M over 5 years. NSF plans to establish five DataNets at this scale, and DataONE is one of the first two that have been funded.

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The National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) is an NSF-funded collaborative research center operated by Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University.

For more on the NSF DataNet project, see http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2007/nsf07601/nsf07601.htm

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