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The iDiv Ecotron - a flexible research platform for multitrophic biodiversity research
  • +11
  • Anja Schmidt,
  • Jessica Hines,
  • Manfred Türke,
  • François Buscot,
  • Martin Schädler,
  • Alexandra Weigelt,
  • Alban Gebler,
  • Stefan Klotz,
  • Tao Liu,
  • Sascha Reth,
  • Jacques Roy,
  • Stefan Trogisch,
  • Christian Wirth,
  • Nico Eisenhauer
Anja Schmidt
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Department of Community Ecology
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Jessica Hines
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research
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Manfred Türke
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
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François Buscot
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Department of Soil Ecology
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Martin Schädler
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Department of Community Ecology
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Alexandra Weigelt
University of Leipzig Department of Biology
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Alban Gebler
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
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Stefan Klotz
Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research UFZ Department of Community Ecology
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Tao Liu
Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems
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Sascha Reth
Umwelt-Geräte-Technik GmbH - UGT
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Jacques Roy
CNRS Délégation Languedoc-Roussillon
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Stefan Trogisch
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
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Christian Wirth
University of Leipzig
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Nico Eisenhauer
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
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Abstract

Across the globe, ecological communities are confronted with multiple global environmental change drivers, and they are responding in complex ways ranging from behavioural, physiological, and morphological changes within populations to changes in community composition and food web structure with consequences for ecosystem functioning. A better understanding of global change-induced alterations of multitrophic biodiversity and the ecosystem-level responses in terrestrial ecosystems requires holistic and integrative experimental approaches to manipulate and study complex communities and processes above and below the ground. We argue that mesocosm experiments fill a critical gap in this context, especially when based on ecological theory and coupled with microcosm experiments, field experiments, and observational studies of macroecological patterns. We describe the design and specifications of a novel terrestrial mesocosm facility, the iDiv Ecotron. It was developed to allow the setup and maintenance of complex communities and the manipulation of several abiotic factors in a near-natural way, while simultaneously measuring multiple ecosystem functions. To demonstrate the capabilities of the facility, we provide a case study. This study shows that changes in aboveground multitrophic interactions caused by decreased predator densities can have cascading effects on the composition of belowground communities. The iDiv Ecotrons technical features, which allow for the assembly of an endless spectrum of ecosystem components, create the opportunity for collaboration among researchers with an equally broad spectrum of expertise. In the last part, we outline some of such components that will be implemented in future ecological experiments to be realized in the iDiv Ecotron. Key words: food webs, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, mesocosms, biotic interactions, lysimeters, climate chambers

Peer review status:IN REVISION

26 Feb 2021Submitted to Ecology and Evolution
01 Mar 2021Assigned to Editor
01 Mar 2021Submission Checks Completed
19 Mar 2021Reviewer(s) Assigned
04 May 2021Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
05 May 2021Editorial Decision: Revise Minor