Ecotron Européen Montpellier

Macrocosms platform


Enclosed Ecosystem Platform

Parent institution: CNRS, Institute of Ecology and Environment
Active since 2010
Active through all year

Fields of study

  • Atmospheric chemistry and physics
  • Isotopic chemistry
  • Climatology, Climate Change
  • Environmental sciences, Pollution
  • Soil science
  • Microbiology
  • Hydrology
  • Terrestrial biology, Ecology

Contact Information

Milcu, Alexandru

The Macrocosms platform of the Montpellier European Ecotron is a 100 m long building housing 12 identical and independent controlled environment experimental units. It is composed of 14 large transparent domes on the roof of the building (2 serving to eliminate the border effect).

The Location

Country: France

Latitude: 43.68166667

Longitude: 3.876389

Nearest town: Montferrier-sur-Lez

Distance from neaerst town: 2 km

Relevant Research Questions

The Macrocosms platform is a versatile experimental facility that can address a wide range of challenging questions in the fields of ecology, climate change, organisms, population, community biology, biodiversity, agronomy and geosciences.


The uniqueness of the facility resides in its capacity to realistically simulate a wide range of climatic conditions while simultaneously measuring (automatically) numerous ecosystem-level processes (CO2-NEE,GPP, Reco, NEP, evapotranspiration, etc.), N2O and CH4 emissions. Isotopic labelling and tracing is also possible. The large size of the ecosystems that can be hosted is also a unique feature among Ecotrons.


Low replication as only 12 experimental units are available (only 3 replicates if 2 factors with 2 levels each are crossed: 2x2x3 = 12)

Experimental Capabilities

Experimental Facilities

2 other platforms (Mesocosms and Microcosms).

Experiments duration: Months, Years;

Experimental Aerea

Total area: 60 m²

Three sizes of lysimeters can be accommodated in the platform (with a surface of 2 m2, 4 m2 and 5 m2 in each of the 12 expeirmental units with a soil depth of down to 2m)

Available area: 60 m²

Experimental Unit Size

unit size: 10 m²

10 m² with lysimeters area of 5, 4 or 2 m²; Plant canopy can be up to 250 cm height; Soil depht can be down to 200 cm.


Replicates number: 12

Temporary storage

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

Available Instruments

  • Spectrometer (Jaz Ocean Optics) / Sunshine sensor (BF5DeltaT), line quantum sensor (LiCor)
  • Hot wire anemometer (Ahlborn)
  • SunScan (DeltaT)
  • Portable gas exchange system with leaf and soil chambers and fluorescence system(LiCor 6400)
  • Pressure chambers (2) ( PMS Instrument)
  • Porometer (SC1 Decagon)
  • Bench belt leaf area meter (LI3100-C LiCor)
  • Data loggers (Campbell CR211)
  • Delta V Plus (ThermoFisher Scientific) Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer

Electricity available on site.

Distance from Laboratory facilities


Years measured:


Mean Temperature: 13.9 °C

February Mean Temperature: 8 °C

July Mean Temperature: 22.3 °C


Mean Annual Speed: 14 m/s

Max. Annual Speed: m/s

Dominant Direction:


Precipitation type: Rain;

Total annual precipitation: 745 mm

Mean snow cover duration: 0 days

State Variables

Continuously Measured

  • Air humidity
  • Air temperature
  • Atmospheric pressure
  • Incident PAR
  • Incident shortwave radiation
  • Soil temperature
  • Soil water content

Spot Measured

  • Canopy temperature
  • Fluorescence
  • Phenology
  • Population densities
  • Species richness

Environmental Pressures

Variable Ecosystem Status
CO2 Agrosystem Active
Biodiversity Agrosystem Active

On site Staff and Accomodation

Peak season staff

Up to 10 people

Off season staff

Up to 2 people

Visiting personnel

No visitors allowed.

No beds on site

Showers on site

Showers on site

No laundry on site