THE ECOTRON PRINCIPLE
An Ecotron is a set of replicated experimental units where ecosystems are confined in enclosures allowing simultaneously the control of environmental conditions and the on-line measurement of ecosystem processes.
A simple principle
An Ecotron confines ecosystem samples in an experimental chamber in order to control in an easier and better way (compared to in natura) the environmental conditions and at the same time it takes advantage of this confinement to measure precisely the exchange of molecules between the ecosystem compartments, including the above atmosphere.
A series of experimental units
An ecotron is not a single experimental unit, but a larger facility with series of units suitable for the comparative nature of most ecological studies and the statistical requirements of these studies. A minimum (golden) number is 12 since it allows studying 2 factors at 2 levels in a fully factorial way (i.e. the interaction between the 2 factors is analyzed) with 3 replicates (2x2x3=12). Many other combinations of factors are also possible.