Innovative uses of advanced sensors and sensor networks are starting to be translated into new ecological knowledge. These sensors are providing a new set of “eyes” through which researchers may observe the world in new ways, extend spatial and temporal scales of observation, more accurately estimate what cannot be observed, and, most important, obtain unexpected results or develop new paradigms. Automated sensors are widely deployed by members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations, yet some needs—particularly for chemical and biological sensors—are not currently being met. There are additional opportunities for developing sensor networks at synoptic, regional, continental, and global scales. Although we are seeing more uses of sensor systems and, in particular, sensor networks, the opportunities for these systems are just beginning to be realized, with much more work to be done, including formulation of new questions, development of new sensors, better software, and new ways for researchers to work together across large distances.
From a paper in BioScience, May 2009, by American Institute of Biological Sciences
Full text available here (campus/library subscription required)