October, 19th the official key over for all 24 Ecotrons were be held at the UFZ research field in Bad Lauchstädt, Germany.
The ‘iDiv Ecotron’ is an experimental platform that will be launched in autumn 2016 with a total of 24 experimental units (EcoUnits) operated in a temperature-controlled hall in the UFZ research station in Bad Lauchstädt.
“It allows for the manipulation of horizontal (i.e. within one trophic level) and vertical biodiversity (i.e. the number of trophic levels) to more comprehensively explore biodiversity effects on ecological processes taking aboveground-belowground interactions into account. Diversity of plants, herbivores, predators, soil fauna, and microorganisms can be manipulated along with manipulations of environmental factors such as light, temperature, and precipitation. One EcoUnit is an experimental chamber including a bottom compartment containing about 1,200 l of soil (0.8 m depth) and an aboveground compartment, large enough to grow tall herbs and to allow for realistic aboveground multitrophic interactions. A number of sensors will measure and regulate environmental conditions. To be flexible for different experimental approaches, there will be the possibility to separate EcoUnits above- and belowground into smaller compartments. In this way, for instance, intact soil cores (lysimeter) from locations with different plant diversity can be transferred from the field into the chambers and be subjected to further manipulations.”(Dr Manfred Türke, iDiv-Ecotron)