Ecotron aids atmospheric investigations

April 24, 1998

Raised levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have major impacts on soil ecology, according to researchers at Imperial College, London. The scientists, led by John Lawton, have discovered that increased carbon in soil leads to changes in populations of microscopic fungi and springtails (tiny wingless insects). Such species play an important role in the complex recycling processes which provide nutrients for plants and other soil dwelling animals.

They were able to draw their conclusions using a unique facility called the Ecotron, which creates small replicas of natural ecosystems. The changes predicted are likely to have a big effect on the ability of soil to act as a "sink" for rising carbon dioxide. This could be of "enormous significance" for global climate change.

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