+ 33 4 34 35 98 94 ecotron@cnrs.fr
Terms of use
An Ecotron is defined as an experimental and ecologically instrumented device that simultaneously conditions the environment of natural or artificial ecosystems and measures processes generated by living beings present in these ecosystems, in particular the flow of matter and energy. Ecotrons answer theoretical questions about the structure and dynamics of ecological systems as well as questions about their response to changes in the environment. They are also intended to contribute to finding solutions to current environmental issues.
Article 1 - Purpose of the Charter

The purpose of this users’ charter is to specify the mechanism and the service offer, the procedure for submitting projects, the procedure for selecting projects, the modalities of use of the service and the obligations arising therefrom, the contribution to the IR ECOTRONS databases, and the methods of exploitation of the results resulting from the use of the service. It does not replace the internal regulations in force on each of the sites but complements them.

Article 2- Offers of service
IR ECOTRONS provides users with 5 technical platforms described on the IR website and the respective websites of the participating units: Terrestrial Macrocosms, Ecolab System, Terrestrial Mesocosms, Aquatic Microcosms, and Terrestrial Microcosms. On-line and/or on-demand equipment instrumentation is provided for each technical platform according to the needs of the research projects. The services offered by IR ECOTRONS include (1) the provision of experimental equipment, instrumentation (2) partly the design, preparation and/or conduct of experimental plans, (3) the storage, processing and partly the analysis of collected data and (4) the skills and availability of the technical teams that implement the previous services. The services are offered to the national and international scientific community as well as to private companies.

The IR Ecotrons consists of two components, some of whose equipment is already in place
operational. The type of environmental monitoring provided and the type of ecosystem studied ensure the complementarity of the 2 components of this infrastructure :

The European Ecotron of Montpellier is located on the Baillarguet campus and consists of a specific 2000 m² building which houses 3 experimental platforms: macrocosms (12 units of 30 m³, each with 2 to 5 m² of ecosystem surface area), mesocosms (24 units under construction, 1 to 4 m³, 0.25 to 1.0 m² of ecosystem) and microcosms (from 12 to more than 400 units of 1 m³ or 1 dm³ respectively depending on the type of ecosystem studied with or without green plants).
Online measurement capabilities include photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration, methane emissions as well as 13C and 12C isotopes of CO2. The isotope approach includes 13C labeling of newly formed organic matter. The first two trays are designed for terrestrial ecosystems under natural or artificial light and the microcosms are installed in the laboratory with artificial light.
The Ecotron IleDeFrance is located in Saint-Pierre-lès-Nemours, at the CEntre de Recherche en
Experimental and Predictive Ecology (CEREEP) of the Ecole Normale Supérieure. It is made up of modular units, the Ecolabs, of 25 m² each and comprising a laboratory cell and three environmental cells (16 m³, 1.5 m² of ecosystem each). These modules will be integrated into a land complex combining a research building of 800 m2 and a platform for hosting a network of six Ecolabs, i.e. 18 environmental cells. The Ecolabs allow the simulation of a wide range of climatic environments and studies in aquatic environments.
The research building will also house the Equipex platform of aquatic microcosms (tens of units of a few liters each).

Article 3 - Governance
The operation and development of IR ECOTRONS is entrusted to a consortium between the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Ecole Normale Supérieure (ENS) in order to meet the scientific and technological challenges associated with the network’s distributed platforms, while ensuring that their use is optimised. The platforms are brought together in a single, coherent governance structure, making it possible to federate a scientific community, pool research and development and direct users towards the most suitable infrastructure.

Each component of IR ECOTRONS is managed by a scientific manager, assisted by a technical manager. The managers are supported by a local service committee consisting of :

  • the scientific and technical managers of the service (executive committee),
  • a scientist from the AnaEE-France Infrastructure but not belonging to the host unit,
  • at least one external researcher not belonging to the host unit.
    This Local Committee is responsible for the selection of projects and their prioritization in order to to optimize the service load. Its composition is provided in Appendix 1.
Article 4 - Procedure for submission and selection of projects
The procedure for the submission and evaluation of research projects is based on a three-step process that depends on the type and method of funding of the project and the target technical platform among the five currently available.

4.1 Submission of the preliminary project proposal

Users must discuss with the scientific and technical managers of the platform as soon as the project is drafted. In the case of animal or environmental experimentation, the competent Ethics Committee must be consulted. The coordinator of the research project (IP) submits an online application (preliminary project) which briefly describes the objectives, content and method of funding the research. This preliminary draft is reviewed by the ECOTRONS Executive Committee in less than two weeks to assess the technical feasibility of the research project and to decide on the best available platform at the proposed execution date.
At this stage, a pre-project may be rejected on the basis of a design error, it may be redirected to a more appropriate platform, or it will be reviewed as indicated below, if necessary, after some requests for minor revisions or additional information.

4.2 Review of Preliminary Drafts


If the IP seeks external funding to cover part of the costs of the operation, consumables and/or personnel, a project will be submitted to a national or international call for proposals. In this case, the IP will have to ensure good coordination with the director and staff of the ECOTRONS host platform when building and submitting the grant application. Proposals that may be accepted for funding at this stage will not be re-evaluated by the Local Service Committee of the ECOTRONS.


In the event that public or private funds are available to carry out the project or where the financial participation of ECOTRONS is requested for a technical adjustment of the platform, the preliminary project will be classified in two categories according to the technical means necessary for its implementation and its duration. Standard projects are those that do not require specific developments and have a limited duration of less than 12 months. Non-standard projects require specific technological developments and a study phase and/or involve the mobilisation of more than 75% of the platform over a period of at least 12 months. This classification of the preliminary project will be immediately notified to the Principal Investigator, who will
may then need to complete additional documentation depending on the project category and technical platform. Standard projects will be evaluated by the local service committee of the host ECOTRONS platform, possibly with the help of external evaluators if necessary. The results of the peer review will be communicated to the project IP within approximately one month. For non-standard projects, evaluation by the International Scientific Committee will be requested (see Annex 2). Based on the peer review process, proposed projects will either be (1) unconditionally accepted, (2) unconditionally rejected, or (3) conditionally accepted subject to revisions.

4.3 Project Implementation

Each time a project is accepted, the staff of the host ECOTRONS technical platform will propose a date, a procedure and a budget to execute the project in the best conditions available in the host platform. This may take the form of a detailed protocol, a collaboration contract and/or private and secure access to a web platform dedicated to ECOTRONS users. The exact documents will depend on the research project, the administrative status of the legal entities involved in the project, and the host platform.

Article 5 - Access arrangements

5.1 Submission of the project

Pre-projects should be submitted on the IR ECOTRONS website: http://www.irecotrons.cnrs.fr/ which provides information on available experimental platforms.
Each Ecotron platform also has a website where additional information on equipment, technical teams and research projects can be found:

European Ecotron of Montpellier (UPS 3248 CNRS): https://www.ecotron.cnrs.fr/
Ecotron IleDeFrance (UMS 3194 CNRS-ENS): http://www.foljuif.ens.fr/
To make a first contact with the platform and present his request, the project leader can send an email to the contacts listed on the IR ECOTRONS website, or contact by phone the person in charge of hosting the technical platform targeted by the project.

5.2 Access conditions

Access to IR ECOTRONS equipment is open to all academic users of the international community without limit of number or duration of the project, and to actors of the socio-economic world under the same conditions. As part of the opening of its research facilities to the national and European community, the network of ECOTRONS platforms is widely open to the socio-economic world and R&D teams of companies
or private companies. Collaborations with these companies are carried out within the contractual framework already established by the platforms’ connecting bodies (CNRS, ENS).

5.3 Selection criteria

The projects examined by the Local Service Committee will be evaluated on the basis of their scientific and technical quality and their relevance to the objectives of the infrastructure (see preamble). New projects submitted by a research team that has already benefited from IR services will have to provide proof of publication or valorization of their previous work. The burden borne by the service is in any case considered. When the demand for eligible projects exceeds the capacity of the service, the following order of priority will be applied among the eligible projects:

projects financed by European agencies with the aim of promoting the international use of the services;
projects funded by French research organisations;
projects funded by agencies in collaboration, including with foreign countries;
other projects.
Particular attention will be paid to projects submitted by private sector users with a view to transferring research results and mobilising additional sources of funding to ensure the sustainability of services and their improvement.

5.4 Funding conditions

All projects hosted have a cost that includes the cost of operating the infrastructure, the cost of equipment developed for the project, the cost of personnel and the cost of consumables and external project delivery. This cost may be partly borne by the platform after a favourable opinion from the project committee. Projects may also be subject to an estimate. This estimate shows the consolidated cost of carrying out the project, as well as the funding requested from the project coordinator. The funding requested may cover the marginal cost of the project, which is calculated on the basis of the operating costs of the equipment used, consumables specific to the project, depreciation and staff costs.

Article 6 - Terms of use of the service and associated obligations

6.1 Terms of use

Users are required to use public facilities in accordance with the following rules
the reception environment, taking care to maintain the cleanliness and storage of the equipment used and strictly complying with the internal regulations and safety rules in force at the reception site. Users must report immediately to the supervising staff any problems encountered during the use of the equipment.
Users undertake to transmit the documents required at the various stages, to follow the good laboratory practices enacted by each platform, and to ensure that all guarantees related to the research work have been taken (request for authorisation, compliance with animal or plant experimentation regulations, etc.).

6.2 Data management policy

Users and ECOTRONS are each responsible for the collection of
Raw data that will be reworked or not to be integrated into an existing database or created within the framework of IR ECOTRONS, which may be collected by own means or from third parties. The data made public and not protected by a literary and artistic property right or by the sui generis right of the producer of a database defined by Articles L 341-1 and following of the Intellectual Property Code, will be freely accessible and freely disseminated to third parties. The data protected by the right of literary and artistic property or by the sui generis right of the producer of a database defined by the articles L 341-1 and following of the Code of the Intellectual Property will be accessible only to the users and to the ECOTRONS for their own activities. These data can also be made available to third parties by the holder of the rights subject to the acceptance and signature of a license to use the data. Any use of the data for commercial exploitation will be subject to the prior signature of a license of exploitation. After the end of the project, all data from the project will have to be centralized in the ECOTRONS database. However, they may not be transmitted to third parties on request without the acceptance and prior signature of a licence to use the data. In any case, users and ECOTRONS agree not to obstruct a request for access to the data, unless justified by a legitimate interest of the holder .

6.3 Confidentiality

The project coordinator may specify that the information exchanged between him/her and the platform during the project discussion, and then during the conduct of the project if it is taken over, must remain confidential. If the coordinator cannot communicate any information on his request to the platform for reasons of confidentiality, the request can only remain punctual and the service provided is limited to a service without technological development or scientific input from the platform.

6.4 Publication and communication

Users are required to notify the preparation of a publication or communication of their results as soon as possible and in any case before submission. Users undertake either to include platform staff as co-authors according to their involvement in the project or to cite the platform in the methodological part of the publications. The publication of the work and experiences carried out in one of the platforms should also include at least the following sentence in the acknowledgements: “This work has benefited from the technical and human resources allocated by the CNRS to IR ECOTRONS as well as from State aid managed by the National Research Agency under the “Investments for the future” programme bearing the reference ANR-11-INBS0001″ ” as well as mentions to the specific co-financers of each platform specified in the hosting agreement. In the case of a Service, in addition to the acknowledgements mentioned above, the User will thank the service used and the operator(s) mobilised when using the service.

Article 7 - Personal commitment
Failure to comply with any of these sections may result in the removal of the authorization to access the
platform. All users must comply with the charter and personally undertake to respect it.
To do so, he signs the following commitment:
I, the undersigned: _____________________________ ,:
user of the material means of the IR ECOTRONS platform, declares to have taken knowledge of of this Charter.
I undertake to respect them and to keep abreast of its developments.
At _______________, on :
Name of the user followed by the mention “Read and approved”:

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