EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The European Ecotron of Montpellier: experimental platforms to study ecosystem response to climate change

Joana Sauze1, Jacques Roy1, Clément Piel1, Damien Landais1, Emmanuel S Gritti1, Olivier Ravel1, Hélène Lemoine1, Abdelaziz Faez1, Sébastien Devidal1, and Alexandru Milcu1,2
Joana Sauze et al.
  • 1Ecotron (UPS 3248), CNRS, Campus Baillarguet, F-34980, Montferrier-sur-Lez, France (
  • 2Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CEFE-CNRS, UMR 5175, Université de Montpellier –Université Paul Valéry –EPHE, 1919 route de Mende, F-34293, Montpellier Cedex 5, France

The sustainability of agricultural, forested and other managed or natural ecosystems is critical for the future of mankind. However, the services provided by these ecosystems are under threat due to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and land use changes. In order to face the challenges of preserving or improving ecosystems services and securing food supply we need to understand and forecast how ecosystems will respond to current and future changes. To help answer those questions Ecotrons facilities are born. Such infrastructures provide sets of confinement units for the manipulation of environmental conditions and real-time measurement of ecological processes under controlled and reproduceable conditions, bridging the gap between the complexity of in natura studies and the simplicity of laboratory experiments.

The European Ecotron of Montpellier ( is an experimental research infrastructure for the study of the impact of climate change on ecosystem functioning and biodiversity. This infrastructure offers, through calls open to the international community, three experimental platforms at different scales. The Macrocosms platform is composed of twelve 40 m3 units, each able to host 2-12 t lysimeters, with a 2-5 m² canopy area and a soil depth of up to 2 m. The Mesocosms one has eighteen 2-4 m3 units, each able to host lysimeters of 0.4-1 m depth and 0.4-1 m² area. The Microcosms platform consists of growth chambers (1 m height, 1 m² area) in which smaller units (with photosynthetic plants, soils, insects, etc.) can be installed. Each experimental unit of each platform allows to confine terrestrial ecosystems. This way, environmental parameters such as temperature (-10 to +50 °C), relative humidity (20-80 %), precipitation (sprinkler or drip) and atmospheric CO2 concentration (200-1000 ppm) are strictly and continuously controlled and recorded. But the uniqueness of the European Ecotron of Montpellier lies on its ability to also continuously measure, in each unit, net gas exchange (evapotranspiration, CO2 / CH4 / N2O net fluxes) that occur in between the ecosystem studied and the atmosphere, as well as CO2, H2O, N2O and O2 isotopologues. Those tools are powerful and remarkable to access additional information about processus involved in ecosystem functioning.

The aim of this presentation is to describe the Macrocosms and the Mesocosms platforms through examples of international projects recently run in these platforms.

How to cite: Sauze, J., Roy, J., Piel, C., Landais, D., Gritti, E. S., Ravel, O., Lemoine, H., Faez, A., Devidal, S., and Milcu, A.: The European Ecotron of Montpellier: experimental platforms to study ecosystem response to climate change, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8650,, 2020.

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