The phytotron, funded by a grant from the Frost Foundation of Denver, offers a controlled environment in which to study how changes in the composition of the atmosphere affect the biosphere. Temperature, humidity, and light in the greenhouse-like facility can be very tightly regulated to maintain required experimental conditions.
Besides its initial grant, the Frost Foundation has also paid for a photosynthesis measurement system for the lab, which was installed last year, and a mini-rhizotron, which measures root growth and biomass. The mini-rhizotron arrived in November.
Two years is not a long time for a study of plant growth, especially of trees. However, several ongoing projects have produced results--in one case, more results than the investigator was ready for.
|Lee Klinger in the Frost Phytotron. (Photo by Carlye Calvin)|
"In a way it was great news, because it was the kind of phenomenon we expected and we wanted to study," he says optimistically. "But it's nothing you could publish." The pre-experiment took a turn for the better, however, when Klinger tried adding mineral pellets around the trees. These succeeded in inhibiting moss growth, and every treated tree is now growing again. With the mini-rhizotron, the controlled experiment can now begin.
For further information on this and other phytotron projects, contact Klinger at 303-497-1474 or firstname.lastname@example.org.