The main goal of the AnaEE Estonia project is to link ecological experiments (field experiments and laboratories where various environmental conditions are manipulated) performed in Estonian research institutions to the international AnaEE (Analysis and Experimentation on Ecosystems) network. To do this, the laboratory base of the experiments needs to be brought in line with the criteria of the AnaEE network, including the size, scope and set of manipulated environmental conditions. AnaEE is the object of the European Infrastructure Roadmap ESFRI and it is planned to operate in ERIC status in the coming year. Joining the AnaEE network provides an opportunity to participate in international joint projects. In addition, joining AnaEE promotes cooperation and specialization between universities, participation in international research infrastructures and enables the improvement of databases and information systems necessary for high-level research. Estonia has been represented in the preparatory phase of AnaEE by the leading partner of the Roadmap Consortium of the Estonian Environmental Observatory, the University of Tartu (UT).
Two clusters of Estonian platforms best meet the AnaEE criteria:
- The Järvselja research station cluster (open-air stations) consists of atmospheric, biosphere and soil experiments and measuring stations located in a nearby area. The most important of these for AnaEE is the FAHM (Free Air Humidity Manipulation Experiment; University of Tartu). This is a unique experiment on a global scale, where effect of elevated air humidity on ecophysiological mechanisms of tree growth responses and forest ecosystem is investigated. This is especially important in Northern latitudes, where humidity is predicted to increase as a side effect of climate change. The experiment is supported by the SMEAR-Estonia measuring station, which is close to the FAHM experimental site and which itself fits the ICOS network's profile. The second experiment is related to the Landscape Biogeochemistry and Environmental Metagenomics Laboratory of the University of Tartu, where in addition to measuring greenhouse gases in different natural and agricultural environments, environmental conditions are also manipulated. One example is a flooding experiment of deciduous forest stands with excess water (Agali experiment) with the support of the Estonian University of Life Sciences (EMÜ) and UT Center of Excellence EcolChange to investigate the effect of flooding on tree’s ecophysiological responses and forest biogeochemical cycles. In cooperation with UT and EMÜ, the MycoPhylo experiment in Rõhu experimental site has been established, which examines the effects of mycorrhizal types, plant growth forms and species richness on soil processes and biodiversity.
- Laboratory of Plant Physiology, Tartu (EMÜ). The laboratory conducts extensive experiments on plants under laboratory conditions and studies their stress tolerance and ecophysiological functions using the measurement of biogenic volatile compounds as the main method. Experimental research based on mathematical models allow quantitatively predict the response of an ecosystem to global change through elucidating molecular stress mechanisms behind ecosystem responses.