Jardin du Lautaret


Open-air Platform

Parent institution: Université Grenoble Alpes
Active since 1890
Active through 1890-current

Co-located with

  • ICOS
  • LTER

Fields of study

  • Anthropology, Sociology, Archaeology
  • Atmospheric chemistry and physics
  • Climatology, Climate Change
  • Environmental sciences, Pollution
  • Geology, Sedimentology
  • Geophysics
  • Geocryology, Geomorphology
  • Soil science
  • Microbiology
  • Hydrology
  • Terrestrial biology, Ecology
  • Paleolimnology
  • Paleoecology

Contact Information

Valay, Jean-Gabriel

For more than one century, since 1899, the site is a unique infrastructure for short and long-term experimental observation and manipulation of temperate mountain ecosystems from the subalpine to nival belts. It provides facilities and expertise to scientists working at various levels. It includes all infrastructures for carrying out experimental research in high mountain ecosystems under controlled conditions or in the field. This includes buildings for accommodation (hosting capacity of 30 persons, two laboratories (45 and 60 sq. meters) that offers possibilities for samples storages, preliminary treatments and analysis and conferences room (80 p.).

Located close to the natural experimental area, the alpine experimental garden and the nursery are devoted for plants germinations (nursery) and growing plant studies in mesocosms and with partially controlled environmental parameters as UV, water supply, soil quality etc. In Grenoble, an alpine green house is devoted to mimic alpine conditions.

The Location

Country: France

Latitude: 45.0359569

Longitude: 6.3997592

Nearest town: Villar-d'Arène

Distance from neaerst town: 8 km

Relevant Research Questions

Lautaret garden provides facilities for research and education focusing on mountain environments at 2100 m asl. Lautaret garden manages an ICOS site, is a member of the AnaEE network and is a major host for the transnational access program of E-LTER. Its observational and experimental infrastructure is devoted to projects related to observing and modeling of the dynamics of mountain socio- ecological systems and understanding of the climate and biogeochemistry of mountain ecosystems. It fosters tight interactions between ecology, geosciences and social sciences on topics such as evolutionary ecology of alpines organisms, snow-vegetation processes, nutrient cycling, ecosystem fluxes, and the evaluation of services provided by mountain ecosystems.


Lautaret garden is one of the only sites in the Alps permitting to carry out experimental research in mountain ecosystems using infrastructures located at 2100 m asl and accessible by road all over the year (1h30-drive from Grenoble University). It’a also a unique exemple of a station regularly hosting high-level schools and training courses for graduate students and having 15 to 20 000 visitors each summer, providing unique opportunities for dissemination actions towards a diverse international public.


Major limitations to research projects are identified with priorities P1 to P3. P1 consists in human ressources (Field ingineer and metadata management), P2 focuses on accomodation limitation and P3 on lab surfaces.

Experimental Capabilities

Experimental Facilities

Plot of lands are hired to local farmers and/or provided for free by the local authorities (partnerships developed since the early 2000)

Experiments duration: Weeks, Months, Years, Decades;

Experimental Aerea

Total area: 100000 m²

A part representing 300 m2 for experimental garden experiments (including a nursery) , 250 m2 of green house at the University Campus, 19000 m2 natural subalpine meadows hosted in and owned by the platform 80000 m2 parcels of subalpine and alpine meadows in convention with local farmers for observations.

Available area: 10000 m²

Experimental Unit Size

unit size: 10 m²

The experimental garden (300 m2) is divided in 90 squares of 1 to 4 m2. Natural subalpine meadows of the platform (19000 m2) are divided in 136 squares of 100 to 150m2. Natural meadows in convention with farmers or local authorities for experimentation can be divided at will. Grennhouse experimentations are in mesocosms ca. 0,25 m2.


Replicates number: 3

Usually 2 to 5

Cross-Ecosystem Manipulation

The experimental garden at 2100 m asl permits to move and grow patches of vegetation collected in different ecosystems (eg alpine meadows collected at 2600 m asl, subalpine meadows submitted to various land use treatments)

Manipulation Techniques

Control of precipitations, mowing, fertilisation; manipulation of snow cover; translocation of vegetation patches from different altitudes and/or land uses

Temporary storage

  • Dark room
  • Drying oven
  • Freeze drier
  • Freezer
  • Liquid N
  • Refrigerator

Available Instruments

  • Centrifuge Beckmann 50000G
  • LICOR Gaz 6400 XT
  • LICOR Dewpoint LI 610 and PAR
  • Spectrophotometer UV-Vis
  • LeafScan
  • Microscopes LEICA EM750, EM500, binoculars MOTIC
  • Centrifuges Ellrich 320R
  • Distilled water MilliQ
  • Freezedryer, iceprovider
  • -80 Freezer 200L

Electricity available on site.

Distance from Laboratory facilities


Years measured: 15


Mean Temperature: °C

February Mean Temperature: °C

July Mean Temperature: °C


Mean Annual Speed: m/s

Max. Annual Speed: m/s

Dominant Direction: WEST


Precipitation type: Both;

Total annual precipitation: mm

Mean snow cover duration: days

Soil Types

State Variables

Continuously Measured

  • (aquatic) Current speed
  • (aquatic) Turbidity
  • (aquatic) Water temperature
  • Air humidity
  • Air temperature
  • Atmospheric pressure
  • Incident PAR
  • Incident shortwave radiation
  • Phenology
  • Population densities
  • Soil temperature
  • Soil water content
  • Species richness

Spot Measured

  • (aquatic) Conductivity
  • (aquatic) Nutrient levels
  • (aquatic) pH
  • Fluorescence
  • Other
  • snow depth
  • snow water equivalent
  • albedo
  • optical properties of canopies (vegetation indices)

Environmental Pressures

Variable Ecosystem Status
CO2 Agrosystem Active
Warming Agrosystem Active
Precip Agrosystem Active
UV Agrosystem Planned
Soileutroph Agrosystem Active
Watereutroph Agrosystem Active
Airpoll Agrosystem Active
Management - Nutrients (levels or nutrient type) Agrosystem Active
Management - pesticides (or other non-nutrient chemicals) Agrosystem Planned
Management - conventional vs. organic or other eco-friendly practice Agrosystem Planned
Management - grazing Agrosystem Active
Management - rotation practice Agrosystem Active
Management - species and/or ecotype combinations Agrosystem Active
Management - traditional (or native) vs. new (or non-native) species Agrosystem Active
Habitatfrag Agrosystem Active
Biodiversity Agrosystem Active
CO2 Grassland Active
Warming Grassland Active
Precip Grassland Active
Hydro Grassland Active
Soileutroph Grassland Active
Watereutroph Grassland Active
Airpoll Grassland Active
Management - Nutrients (levels or nutrient type) Grassland Active
Management - pesticides (or other non-nutrient chemicals) Grassland Planned
Management - conventional vs. organic or other eco-friendly practice Grassland Active
Management - grazing Grassland Active
Management - rotation practice Grassland Active
Management - species and/or ecotype combinations Grassland Active
Management - traditional (or native) vs. new (or non-native) species Grassland Active
Habitatfrag Grassland Active
Biodiversity Grassland Active
Hydro River Active
Airpoll River Planned
Management - Nutrients (levels or nutrient type) River Planned
Management - Nutrients (levels or nutrient type) Lake Planned
Management - pesticides (or other non-nutrient chemicals) Lake Planned
Management - species and/or ecotype combinations Lake Planned
Management - other Lake Planned

On site Staff and Accomodation

Peak season staff

Up to 12 people

Off season staff

Up to 12 people

Visiting personnel

Up to 45 visitors

Bedrooms available

Up to 30 beds

Showers on site

Showers on site

Laundry on site

Laundry on site