Towards more predictive and interdisciplinary climate change ecosystem experiments

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Despite great advances, experiments concerning the response of ecosystems to climate change still face considerable challenges, including the high complexity of climate change in terms of environmental variables, constraints in the number and amplitude of climate treatment levels, and the limited scope of responses and interactions covered. Drawing on the expertise of researchers from a variety of disciplines, this Perspective outlines how computational and technological advances can help in designing experiments that can contribute to overcoming these challenges, and also outlines a first application of such an experimental design.

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Fig. 1: Overview of the two climate change gradient designs in the UHasselt Ecotron experiment.
Fig. 2: Impact pathway showing the reasoning behind the integration of scientific disciplines in the UHasselt Ecotron experiment.
Fig. 3: Measured variables in the UHasselt Ecotron experiment and links with ecosystem functions, services and values.


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We thank the Flemish government (through Hercules Stichting big infrastructure and the Fund for Scientific Research Flanders project G0H4117N) and LSM (Limburg Sterk Merk, project 271) for providing funds to build the UHasselt Ecotron; Hasselt University for both funding and policy support (project BOF12BR01 and Methusalem project 08M03VGRJ); and the ecotron research committee for comments on the experimental design. We also thank Regional Landscape Kempen and Maasland for its collaboration and support. N.W., S.L., A.N. and I.V. are funded by Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO).

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F.R. and R.M. took the lead in writing the manuscript and received input from all co-authors. The initial conceptualization of this manuscript was discussed during a consortium meeting. All authors proofread and provided their input to different draft versions and gave their final approval for submission.

Correspondence to Francois Rineau.

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Rineau, F., Malina, R., Beenaerts, N. et al. Towards more predictive and interdisciplinary climate change ecosystem experiments. Nat. Clim. Chang. 9, 809–816 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41558-019-0609-3

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