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ALTER-Net: A Long-Term Biodiversity, Ecosystem and Awareness Research Network

Europe’s ecosystem research network


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Multi-Site Research

About ALTER-Net's Multi-Site Research activities, including the current call for proposals


Vegetation surveying, Moor House, UK. Photo (c)CEHFrom 2006 to 2016, ALTER-Net coordinated three multi-site experiments (MSEs) in order to demonstrate that simple field experiments can be conducted across Europe. Reports of the first two experiments are available.

In May 2016, ALTER-Net broadened its activity to encompass more forms of multi-site research (MSR), i.e. not restricted to experimental studies. The first MSR call was in June 2016.



Multi-Site Research

From 2016

Contact for further information: Tessa van Santen, INBO, Belgium (Send email)

One of the activities that ALTER-Net wishes to support are so-called multi-site research projects (MSR), that significantly contribute to the network's objectives. The predecessor of the MSR was called MSE (Multi-Site Experiments), via which several fundamental experiments on ecological questions were performed (see below).

The Multi-Site Research initiative is designed to enable not only research on fundamental ecological questions but other research relevant to ALTER-Net, e.g. on socio-ecological research issues (with, e.g. interview techniques, citizen science approaches, etc.). Hence, as well as ecological studies, the programme will consider socio-ecological research and studies addressing topics including eco-political issues, ecosystem services, ecosystem functioning, etc. Given the more or less pan-European distribution of ALTER-Net consortium partners, ALTER-Net MSRs potentially allow the inclusion of the majority of bio-geographical and (socio-)economical regions in Europe.

Current call

MSR-2 Call open until 05 October 2017

See the call details for further information.


Previous Multi-Site Research projects


MSR-1 (2016-17): The advantage of teatime at your home field

Lead PI: Prof. Hjalmar Laudon, SLU, Sweden

This project concerns the Tea Bag Index method of studying decomposition in soils. The aim is to test decomposition using a very simple method, and determine the microbial community that is responsible for decomposition across a large climatic gradient, in particular, investigating the often observed 'home field advantage'.



Earlier Multi-Site Experiments funded by ALTER-Net

2006 - 2016

MSE-III: The impact of dung beetle assemblages on dung and seed dispersal

In this multi-site experiment we investigate whether the functional composition of dung beetle assemblages has an impact on dung decomposition and secondary seed dispersal processes. The added value of working at the multi-site level is the wide bioclimatic range of sites; for this reason, sites throughout the entire Western Palaearctic zone are included. This allows also us to investigate whether predicted climate change will have an impact on these processes through the changes it induces in dung beetle assemblage composition. In 2014, the experiment was run at 12 study sites in eight European countries.


  • Milotić, T., Quidé, S., Van Loo, T., Hoffmann, M.  (2017). Linking functional group richness and ecosystem functions of dung beetles: an experimental quantification. Oecologia 183(1), 177-190. doi:10.1007/s00442-016-3756-5
  • Elham Omidezadeh Ardali, Pejman Tahmasebi, Dries Bonte, Tanja Milotić, Iraj Rahimi Pordanjani, Maurice Hoffmann (2016). Ecological Sustainability in Rangelands: The Contribution of Dung Beetles in Secondary Seed Dispersal (Case study: Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province, Iran). European Journal of Sustainable Development 5, 3, 133-139. DOI: 10.14207/ejsd.2016.v5n3p133


MSE-II: The impact of nutrients and climate on litter decomposition

Our second multi-site experiment addressed the variation of litter decomposition across a European gradient. Specifically, the study investigated the impact of nutrient availability along a broad climatic gradient to explore the impact of nutrients and climate on decomposition. This MSE involved 20 experimental sites in 10 countries, with 8 grassland sites and 12 in forested ecosystems.


MSE-I:  Effects of trampling on plant assemblages

This experiment looked at vegetation responses to disturbance by trampling, which is an important factor controlling the assemblage of plants. We established 39 experimental sites in 10 European countries. 17 sites were in grassland, 22 in forest ecosystems.


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