NEON Biorepository

Each year, NEON collects and archives thousands of specimens and samples that complement the field observations and automated measurements collected at field sites. These samples represent a rich resource unique among natural history collections due to NEON’s utility for continental- and decadal-scale ecology. NEON’s archival samples are available upon request to support research studies and analyses.

Please note that the primary NEON Biorepository is currently being developed at Arizona State University (ASU). Until this facility and its services are more fully established, including an online searchable database, research proposal teams who plan to utilize NEON specimens and samples are encouraged to contact the Biorepository PI Dr. Nico Franz.

Types of Archival Samples

The NEON Biorepository encompasses the long-term storage and curation of NEON samples and specimens which include voucher specimens, whole organisms, tissues, and samples that are collected and processed for chemistry, disease and genetics.

Explore the Archival Samples Catalog

Types of Sample Requests

  • Loans for non-destructive use: These loans are typically granted for a 6-12 month period; a longer period of time may be accommodated if properly justified. Ordinarily, no more than one-half of a sample or series of samples from a NEON site may be borrowed at any one time for non-destructive use. All loan requests, no matter the quantity, are considered on a case-by-case basis. Endangered taxa, fragile specimens, or samples which are deemed to be in limited supply are generally not considered for loans.  Because the NEON Biorepository is a community resource with finite materials, we ask that requestors only ask for what they need and do not request excess samples.
  • Loans for destructive or consumptive use: Decisions to grant or not grant permission for destructive/consumptive/invasive sampling will be based on: (1) rarity of the species or sample and its representation within the NEON Biorepository collections; (2) degree of destruction/consumption/invasiveness; (3) physical condition of the specimen(s); (4) significance of the proposed research relative to NEON’s mission to enable continental-scale ecology; and (5) qualifications of the investigators. Any physical material remaining after the analysis will be returned to the NEON Biorepository unless otherwise agreed upon in writing. Because the NEON Biorepository is a community resource with finite materials, we ask that requestors only ask for what they need and do not request excess samples.

How Do I Discover NEON Samples?

  1. Identifiers for the samples collected by NEON are captured in the corresponding data products. The accompanying variables table identified the sample identifiers and the data table in which they appear.  
  2. Sample identifiers can be entered into the NEON Sample Viewer to look up the current location of a particular sample. Please note that while the NEON Biorepository is in development, locations of samples are changing frequently. In the interim, please contact the NEON Archive Team to confirm the location of a particular sample.
  3. The Symbiota-based NEON Biorepository data portal is currently in development; once live, NEON samples that reside in the NEON Biorepository at ASU will be searchable in an online database.
  4. A subset of legacy samples (collected prior to 2018) have been archived at other institutions and are available by contacting the institutions directly. See below for more details.
  5. For more general inquiries, please contact the NEON Biorepository PI Dr. Nico Franz.

Where are Samples Housed?

Primary NEON Biorepository

The majority of NEON samples will be housed in the primary NEON Biorepository at Arizona State University. Questions about these samples should be sent to the Biorepository PI Dr. Nico Franz.

A subset of samples archived at and available from various curation facilities listed below.

Tick Samples

All tick samples collected by NEON during construction and continuing through operations are available and will be curated through the U.S. National Tick Collection at Georgia Southern University.

Megapit Soil Samples

During the construction of every terrestrial field site, soil is collected from multiple soil horizons at a single soil "megapit" that is up to 2m deep. These samples serve as a reference of soil physical and chemical conditions at the time the NEON site was constructed. This soil archive is located at NEON Headquarters and available upon request.

Excess Soils 

During the course of soil biogeochemistry sampling, soils in excess of the analytical need are collected and housed for a limited time at NEON Domain Support Facilities

Legacy Samples

  • Small mammal samples collected prior to 2018 - Museum of Southwestern Biology
  • Small mammal samples previously collected in Florida - University of Florida Gainesville
  • Small mammal tissue specimens including approx. 8-9000 samples (hair, whisker, blood, ear punches, feces) collected from the small mammal protocol pre-2018 - University of New Mexico
  • Ground beetle pinned carabid specimens collected prior to 2019 - Carnegie Museum of Natural History or the Essig Museum of Entomology
  • Ground beetle (pooled carabids and bycatch stored in ethanol) specimens from Colorado, Florida, and Massachusetts (generally from 2013) - Denver Museum of Nature and Science
  • Legacy Herptiles from Ground Beetle Pitfalls in Utah -  Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum

Questions about samples not housed at the NEON Biorepository at ASU should be sent to the NEON Archival Samples Team.

Considerations for Request Approval

The internal evaluation and approval of sample requests will focus on technical and logistical criteria as well as scientific justification, particularly for requests for destructive or consumptive use. The latter is not intended to subsume the scientific merit review that may have been conducted by the sponsoring agency; but rather is a means to ensure the highest and best use of this valuable but limited resource, as well as transparency and accountability to the greater research and collections communities.

Sample Use Policy

Since August 2018, the primary NEON Biorepository is being developed at Arizona State University. Therefore the policy also remains in development. This downloadable pdf is a draft of the full policy.


Important Notes About Accessing Samples

Cost of shipping will be handled on a case-by-case basis. At present, the NEON Biorepository foresees retaining the ability to cover shipping costs for small-scale or exploratory studies when no other funding is available. Larger-scale and/or long-term sample shipping needs will typically have to be financed by the corresponding external research team.

For large or complicated requests of material, researchers will be encouraged to visit the NEON Biorepository using their own funds, to select specimens for sampling or to study them directly on site when suitable. Removal of material from samples selected by the researcher will be made with approval by appropriate NEON Biorepository staff. Not only does a personal visit reduce the work required of  staff, it allows the investigator to make more precise selections of material to be used, or even accomplish an entire research task on site.

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