The iDiv Ecotron is a joint research platform of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ. The indoor research facility houses 24 identical experimental units, the so-called EcoUnits, each of which can contain one to four independent ecosystems, separated above- or belowground, or both. The faunal species composition within these ecosystems can be manipulated with respect to the number of species within a trophic level (horizontal diversity) as well as with respect to the number of trophic levels themselves (vertical diversity). The main objective of the iDiv Ecotron is to manipulate multitrophic diversity in above-belowground food webs and study the consequences for many ecosystem functions.
By providing the unique opportunity to fully control environmental conditions like temperature, nutrient supply, and precipitation of each single ecosystem within the EcoUnits while measuring ecological processes with non-invasive methods, the iDiv Ecotron provides the link between laboratory and field studies as it combines the advantages of both.