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Ecolab system

The Ecolab is a new generation of environmental simulator dedicated to experimentation in ecology in the Ecotron IleDeFrance nearby Paris.

Each Ecolab includes a laboratory room and three identical closed environmental chambers, each of a volume around 13 m3, conditioned by independent technical bodies controlled from a centralized supervisor. At present, the Ecolab enables precise real-time programming of weather conditions (temperature, humidity, and precipitation), of the concentrations of some atmospheric gases (CO2 and O2, as well as O3 in three chambers) and of several artificial lighting conditions. It can produce climate conditions varying from cold polar environments to hot and humid tropical environment. It can regulate weather conditions accurately to simulate slow or sudden changes, and can independently change climate conditions from gas concentrations in the atmosphere. Each environmental chamber is equipped with a mesocosm to confine terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems. This mesocosm consists of a stainless steel tank with a double jacket and enables real-time control of thermal gradients in the ecosystem independently from the atmosphere. Artificial light can be provided by incandescent bulbs, plasma lamps or modular LED source depending on the research project.

Rainfall is provided by sprinklers and the quantity and quality of rainfall can be controlled. Thus, the Ecolab offers unprecedented ability to simulate natural or artificial climates and study feedbacks between environmental conditions, physiological responses at the organism level and the functioning of the ecosystems. The design and construction of Ecolab system was financed by the CNRS Ecotrons infrastructure, the Ile-de-France Region, the ANR AnaEE France project and FEDER funds from Europe.