ExpeER (Experimentation in Ecosystem Research) is an European project which aimed to bring together the major observational, experimental, analytical and modelling facilities in ecosystem science in Europe.
By uniting these highly instrumented ecosystem research facilities under the same umbrella and with a common vision, ExpeER intended to contribute to structuring the still fragmented research community on terrestrial ecosystems within the European Research Area. ExpeER was improving quality and performance of these infrastructure components in a sustainable manner and stimulating their international use.
ExpeER did contribute to the development of a state-of-the-art research infrastructure by:
- enabling collaboration and integration across experimental, observational and modeling approaches in ecosystem research;
- improving the technology and metho-dology at play in ExpeER infrastructures through specific research programs;
- hosting research teams within its 30 sites and platforms through a strong and coordinated program for Transnational Access;
- linking these highly instrumented facilities to existing networks of long-term research sites across Europe (e.g. LTER-Europe);
- developing a “model toolbox” allowing the scientific community within and outside the ExpeER network to better use modelling platforms. This will allow easy access to models for experimentalists and improve forecasting of ecosystem function and ser-vices under different future climate scenarios.
Scientists involved in the project consortium ranged from physiologists to environmental scientists, with a large number of participants involved in agronomy, ecology and biochemistry. This range of disciplines is essential to the long-term development of ecosystem science, in that detailed studies of small, rapid processes need to be embedded in longer term, larger scale experiments in order to develop a true systems approach, resulting in models that transfer information across scales. Much progress in environ-mental research has been the result of disciplinary and reductionist attempts to analyse separate compartments of the environmental system. However, the complexity of problems created by global change, land use changes, ecosystem services, food security issues, etc. needs an integrated interdisciplinary approach to solve environ-mental problems raised by today’s society.