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Aquatic macrocosms

This technical platform comprises sixteen "artificial lakes" which take the form of large rectangular basins with a surface area of 450 m2 and a depth of 3 m and reach an individual water volume of around 750 m3. Each lake is equipped with an automatic sensor system for measuring physico-chemical parameters in the water column including dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and total chlorophyll a. The 16 lakes are characterized by the presence of 2 shallow coastal areas implanted with macrophytes. These coastal zones are separated by a wide area of open water free of vegetation, and extended by steep slopes ending at a depth of 3 m into a large sandy benthic zone of nearly 200 m2. Because of their morphology delineating contrasted compartments (pelagic, benthic and coastal zones) and their large volume allowing to study long-term dynamics, artificial lakes constitute innovative experimental models to study the functioning of lake ecosystems. The artificial lakes are interconnected, in series of 4, via dispersal corridors which can be closed or opened. Aquatic macroscosms are able to harbour species at the top of the food chain for long periods of time, present realistic food webs, and are characterized by spatial complexity similar to that of natural ecosystems. Unique to the world, they allow to deal with questions little studied experimentally, such as the coupling, complementarities and transfers between pelagic, littoral and benthic compartments, or those related to the dynamics and the complexity of the animal communities at the top of the trophic network.

This platform belongs to the national infrastructure AnaEE France.