Eight ecological research stations, which cover a wide range of geographical regions and ecosystem types, are an important part of the Chinese Ecological Research Network and form the research platforms for scientists from many research groups of the Institute. The Changbai Mountain Forest Ecosystem Research Station, Shenyang Agricultural Ecosystem Research Station, and Huitong Forest Ecosystem Research Station have become state key field stations and are continually supported by CAS and MOST. The Qingyuan Forest Ecosystem Research Station and Ulanaodu Desert Ecosystem Research Station have also joined the CAS Field Station Association. All stations have licensed land and laboratory facilities for scientists to conduct field experiments and have good conditions for living. These stations are ideal places for establishing long-term monitoring plots, conducting comparative studies across ecological gradients, and laying out controlled field experiments. They are also windows for scientific demonstration, public education, student training and international collaboration. They are briefly described as follows:
Huitong Forest Ecosystem Research Station (Hunan Province):This station was established in 1960, and is one of the two oldest forest ecosystem research stations in China. Research activities are focused primarily on Chinese fir (Cunminghamialanceolata) plantations. The station has an experimental forest of about 100 ha, and laboratory spaces of 600 m2. At present, many field experiments have been set up to examine carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous transformation processes, root turnover, litter decomposition, and soil biota and their functions.
Changbai Mountain Forest Ecosystem Research Station (Jilin Province):This station was constructed in 1979, with special attention accorded to the conservation and sustainable use of primary Korean pine forest (Pinus koraiensis) and secondary successional forests. The station has monitoring facilities that measure air quality and a large crane (arm length 54 m, 360º rotation) to study forest canopies. Institute scientists have set up a precipitation experiment, a nitrogen deposition experiment and a soil warming experiment to study the responses of forest ecosystems to changes in global climate. The 25-ha large permanent plot of the Changbai Mountain temperate forest has become an important base within the International Forest Biodiversity Network.
Qingyuan Forest Ecosystem Research Station (Liaoning Province):This station has 1,350 ha experimental forests consisting primarily of secondary forests at different successional stages, natural Korean pine forest remnants, mixed forests of conifers and deciduous species, artificial larch (Larix) plantations and artificial Korean pine plantations. The major research foci of the station include conducting studies on secondary forest management, restoration of disturbed forest, and biogeochemical cycles.
Shenyang Urban Forest Ecosystem Station (the Arboretum in Shenyang City): This station was established in 1955, and is now situated at two locations. A 5-ha arboretum is located in the center of the city. Construction of a new site consisting of 130 ha of forests surrounding our new campus in Huishan began in 2005. These two sites are now being used for screening tree plant species suitable for urban areas, and for studying the effects of global climate change on urban ecosystem structure and functions.
Grand Green Valley Sandune Ecosystem Research Station (Inner Mongolia): This station, located in the Horqin Sandland of Inner Mongolia, represents the typical agro-pastoral transitional zone of the arid and semi-arid zones of the northern China. Research activities focus on the problems of land degradation, productivity decline, and vegetation restoration.