October 3, 2001
Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve Connects to HPWREN's 45 Mbps Backbone
Researchers Now Capable of Remotely Accessing Real-Time Field Data
Spanning more than 4000 acres, the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve (SMER) is nestled between the Santa Ana Mountains in the northeast portion of San Diego County. Until last week, remote access to field data was only a dream. However, SMER scientists are now connected to the HPWREN 45 Mbps backbone and have the capability of accessing real-time field data from anywhere in the world.
"Santa Margarita's connection to HPWREN is the first step in changing the ways in which field science is conducted at our four field stations," explained San Diego State University's Field Station Programs Executive Director Sedra Shapiro. "This high-speed connection also gives us the power to efficiently disseminate information to our students, nearby landowners, government agencies, and policy makers."
More than 50 research projects are being conducted at SMER. This research encompasses a wide array of studies, including:
In addition to HPWREN connectivity, the reserve is being equipped with sensors that provide researchers with high-resolution time series measurements of physical, chemical, and biological variables. These sensors include audio/video capture systems, water, air, and soil quality/temperature instruments, and weather stations. "In meeting our aspiration for becoming a central environmental observation area for the South coast ecoregion, we have embarked upon a goal to develop strength in ecoinformatics," said Shapiro.
Consequently, ecoinformatics development such as this falls right in line with the National Science Foundation's recently proposed National Ecological Observatories Network (NEON). With the goal of equipping ecological reserves around the country with computerized instrumentation infrastructures, NEON would also network all of the reserves together via broadband telecommunications.The proposed NEON project would allow U.S. ecologists to easily share field data collections with one another and communicate their findings with their students, government agencies, and private landowners.
"We are working toward establishing SMER as a prototype for what NEON could accomplish on a national scale," said Shapiro. "Our field stations like Santa Margarita provide a living laboratory and outdoor classroom for researchers and educators alike, and we hope to one day have the capability to share not only our data, but data from field stations throughout the country."
Additional photographs regarding the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve are available at http://hpwren.ucsd.edu/Photos/sites.html#SMER.
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