Ecologically Controlled Enclosed Lysimeter Laboratories - EcoCELLS

Affiliation(s)ContactWebsite
DEES Richard Jasoni Frits Went Lab
Lab Description

The centerpiece of the Frits Went Laboratory includes four Ecologically Controlled Enclosed Lysimeter Laboratories, or EcoCELLs.

The Frits Went Laboratory includes four Ecologically Controlled Enclosed Lysimeter Laboratories, or EcoCELLs

A. Exterior view of the Frits Went Laboratory glasshouse.

B. Building floor plan showing location of EcoCELLs and EcoPods.

C. Side view of an EcoCELL showing the upper level of the glasshouse and lower mechanical level.

D. Looking down into the lower mechanical level from the glasshouse upper level. In the center are the four load cells upon which the lysimeter / rhizotron is mounted.

The unique aspects of these CELLs are that they take a technique commonly used to measure gas fluxes to and from leaves and apply it at the community level, two steps higher in the ecological hierarchy. The CELLs allow, for the first time, full plant-canopy gas exchange experiments conducted under well-defined, pre-chosen conditions (e.g., at elevated CO2 concentrations). By measuring fluxes at the "traditional" lower scales simultaneously with measurements in these mesocosms, studies of material exchange between soil and plants, soil and the atmosphere, and plants and the atmosphere can all be linked. This allows models that have attempted to integrate from lower scales to the community level to be tested - again for the first time.

EcoCELL Specifications

Each of the four EcoCELLs is a separate mesocosm designed as an open-flow, mass-balance system for the measurement of trace gas exchange.

Dr. J. Arnone demonstrating the scale of an empty EcoCELL lysimeter. EcoCELL lysimeters planted with cheatgrass during a recent experiment.

Dr. J. Arnone demonstrating the scale of an empty EcoCELL lysimeter.

EcoCELL lysimeters planted with cheatgrass during an  experiment.

altAir temperature and humidity, trace gas concentrations, and incoming air flow rate are strictly controlled as well as being accurately and precisely measured. Temperature control is achieved without condensation; humidity is controlled by a combination of regulating the dew point and flow rate of incoming air; wind speed and flow pattern are adjustable. The soil medium in each cell is contained in three 2.7m x 1.8m x 2m (down wind length x w x d) acrylic walled boxes -- lysimeter/rhizotron -- which closely adjoin each other, forming a continuous plant canopy.

Each lysimeter/rhizotron is mounted on a set of four load cells capable of discriminating a change in weight of 250 g in a total weight of 20 x 106 g. The weighing lysimeters provide a primary check on the mass-balance gas exchange system's calibration in that the integral of the mass-balanced based measurements of transpiration must equal the weight change of the lysimeter over that period of time. A plant canopy transpiring at an average rate will lose a detectable amount of weight in approximately 20 minutes.

EcoCELL cross sectional view

Below is a cross-sectional schematic view of one of the Frits Went Laboratory's EcoCELLs. In the EcoCELLs, researchers can control the elements of a working ecosystem and continuously monitor their behavior.

Cross-sectional schematic view of one of the Frits Went Laboratory's EcoCELLs

Each of the four EcoCELLs is a separate mesocosm designed as an open-flow, mass-balance system for the measurement of trace gas exchange.

Air temperature and humidity, trace gas concentrations, and incoming air flow rate are strictly controlled as well as being accurately and precisely measured. Temperature control is achieved without condensation; humidity is controlled by a combination of regulating the dew point and flow rate of incoming air; wind speed and flow pattern are adjustable. The soil medium in each cell is contained in three 2.7m x 1.8m x 2m (down wind length x w x d) acrylic walled boxes -- lysimeter/rhizotron -- which closely adjoin each other, forming a continuous plant canopy. Each lysimeter/rhizotron is mounted on a set of four load cells capable of discriminating a change in weight of 250 g in a total weight of 20 x 106 g. The weighing lysimeters provide a primary check on the mass-balance gas exchange system's calibration in that the integral of the mass-balanced based measurements of transpiration must equal the weight change of the lysimeter over that period of time. A plant canopy transpiring at an average rate will lose a detectable amount of weight in approximately 20 minutes.

alt

(a) View of EcoCELL #4 lysimeters before adding soil. (b) View of EcoCELL from the basement showing lysimeter load cells. (c) Cross-sectional elevation view of EcoCELL.

>> List of EcoCELL Research Publications and Abstracts.

For more information on the EcoCELLs, please contact Dr. Richard Jasoni at (775) 673-7472 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..