CERN meets AnaEE at the Montpellier Ecotron, October 2017

Guirui YU, director of the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN) and Xiubo YU, secretary general of CERN presented to Jacques Roy (AnaEE deputy director) the future developments of CERN, especially the planned field experimental platforms and controlled environment facilities. Future collaborations between CERN and AnaEE will be developed (photo ©L. Zhang, CERN).


Extracts from Strategic Plan for Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN) : "Founded by Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1988, CERN has defined three core tasks, i.e., ecosystem monitoring, research and demonstration. CERN currently consists of 40 ecological sites, five sub-centers (for water, soil, atmosphere, biology and aquatic systems) and one synthesis center. Of the 40 ecological sites, there are 15 for cropland, 10 for forest, five for desert, 2 for grassland, 1 for marsh, 2 for lake, 3 for bay, 1 for karst, and 1 for urban ecosystem.
CERN has grown into a key ecosystem research network in China and in Asia-Pacific Region, playing an important role in ecological conservation and socio-economic development."

Major tasks

1. Long-term ecosystem monitoring

By 2020, active efforts will be made: to develop the observation and experimentation platform and data transfer system; to implement the monitoring indicators system and monitoring programs that have been established; to build closer ties between monitoring and research; and conduct dynamic analysis and public services for the monitored information; to achieve real-time and automatic observation that combines the tools and technologies of satellite, aerial and ground-based measurement; and to build a scientific research system based on e-science and virtual network so that its monitoring, experiment and research capacity can reach the international advanced level.

2. Ecosystem research

By 2020, CERN will focus on the following six core areas and 18 key scientific questions to conduct synthesis research:

Core area 1: Ecosystem biogenic elements and water cycle process
We will: (1) conduct network-based observation and control experiment, undertake synthesis study and develop advanced technologies and approaches focusing on carbon, nitrogen and water cycle of terrestrial ecosystems; (2) analyze the spatial and temporal pattern of ecosystem carbon, nitrogen and water cycle in China and their feedback to climate change, and explore ecological approach to regulate and optimize the management of ecosystem carbon, nitrogen and water cycle.

Core area 2: Response and adaptation of ecosystems to global climate change
We will: (1) study the response and adaptation of ecosystems and their feedback to global climate change, in particular the changes and predictive methods for the interaction among geo-sphere, biosphere and atmosphere, ecosystem functions, processes and spatial patterns; and (2) develop the observation and research network on climate change adaptability, and address new approaches and tools on ecosystem management that mitigate and adapt to global climate change.

Core area 3: Biodiversity conservation and use of biological resources
We will: (1) study the role of biodiversity in maintaining ecosystem functions, address the mechanism of maintaining biodiversity, and study the ecological mechanism of species evolution in key areas and the technologies of conserving genetic resources; and 2) study the technologies of using biological resources and plants that can be used as energy, the sustainability of such resources and their impacts on ecological environment.

Core area 4: Ecosystem restoration and sustainability
We will: (1) study the ecological zonation and development planning in key areas, on the basis of fully understanding the global and regional ecological changes, and study the degradation process of ecosystems in different areas, as well as the mechanism, key technologies and demonstration models for restoring the degraded ecosystems; and (2) provide scientific information for the use of resources, eco-environmental protection and socio-economic development in the specific regions.

Core area 5: Impacts of human activities on ecosystem structure and functions
We will address the impacts of human activities such as land use change, urbanization and environmental protection onto the ecosystems, and assess the pattern and environmental effect of ecosystem structure and functional changes under the impact of human activities, as well as the role and mechanism of sustainable human activities and ecosystem management in restoring ecosystem functions.

Core area 6: Application of ecological monitoring, modeling and eco-informatics
We will : (1) study the indicators, procedure and datasharing mechanism on long-term ecosystem monitoring, develop key technologies for information sharing and data management, new technologies and approaches of monitoring ecosystem changes and the carbon, nitrogen and water cycle processes, as well as new concepts and tools for ecosystem modeling, data integration analysis and scaling; (2) develop theory on eco-informatics, address key technologies on data collection-remote transfer-integrated analysis in the process of ecosystem monitoring and experimentation, explore theories and practices on ecoinformation spatial distribution on the basis of ground and network-based dynamic monitoring, and develop grid-based spatial database and information system.

18 key scientific questions

  • Carbon, nitrogen and water cycle of terrestrial ecosystems and their coupling
  • N and P cycle of aquatic ecosystems
  • Regional carbon-sink functions and carbon management
  • Impact of major factors of global climate change onto key ecosystem processes
  • Response and adaptation of ecological sensitive zones, fragile zones and transitional zones to global climate change
  • Response and adaptation of ecosystems to extreme weather events and natural disasters
  • Impact of biodiversity change onto ecosystem structure and functions
  • Ecological fundamentals for the sustainable use of biological resources
  • Approaches and mechanism of restoring the structure and functions of degraded ecosystems
  • Key technologies and optimized management model of restoring the fragile eco-zones
  • Approaches and standards of assessing the benefits of key ecological programs
  • Impact of land use change onto the ecosystem structure and functions
  • Assessment on the loading, transfer, transformation and environmental risk of environmental pollutants in ecosystems
  • Impact of atmospheric pollution onto regional ecosystems
  • Impact of urbanization onto regional ecosystems
  • Integration of technologies of monitoring the ecosystems on a real-time and dynamic basis
  • Approaches of quality control for eco-informatics and key technologies of data Management
  • Application of information technology in ecosystem research and management