MICROCOSM EXPERIMENTS AS A TOOL IN SOIL ECOLOGY STUDIES
Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca: Agriculture
Soil microcosms are also called Terrestrial Model Ecosystems (Carbonell and Tarazona, 2014) . There is a large diversity of microcosm studies from simple systems to sophisticated terrestrial ecosystems. Many disciplines have utilized microcosms as a powerful research tool especially microbiologists, ecotoxicologists, limnologists (Fraser et al. 2004 ) and soil ecologists (Sandor and Schrader, 2012) . This study is in attempt of a better understanding terrestrial model ecosystem and some causal
... ffects that can be simulated. For this purpose advantages and drawbacks are assessed. Microcosms can be placed indoor or outdoor using sieved soil or undisturbed cores. Experiments variables have included: moisture supply, soil depth, temperature, mineral nutrient supply, carbon dioxide concentration, mycorrhizae, rhizobia, plants, herbivores and carnivores animals. The time of the study depends on the ecological processes under investigation. All the experimental designs have advantages like the ease of replication and manipulation of the parameters and treatments involved and some disadvantages like restricted space. Further factorial microcosm experiments can explore combinations of factors for a better understanding of causal relationships and interactions between plants species and soil communities. Comparison is helped by separating complex causal effects.