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Starting a Project

To find out how you might use the ERC for your research or teaching activity, schedule a visit with the ERC manager and tour the ERC grounds. If you decide to proceed with an event or project, meet with the manager to discuss your ideas, generate a timetable, and work out any logistics. Ultimately, a formal request to use the ERC should be submitted to the ERC Director, which will include a short description of the project, the specific resources of the ERC that will be required, the timeframe of the project, and a plan for mitigating any effects on the land or facilities.

Logistical Support

The ERC owns a variety of field equipment to support research projects. Researchers are welcome to use field vehicles, boats, mowers, sampling devices, and a full array of tools from the workshop. Please check with the ERC Manager for any use restrictions and/or required training.

The ERC can also supply the expertise, materials and most of the tools needed to assemble specialty items. The ERC manager can provide expertise in designing experimental devices and assist in locating vendors for unusual items. A variety of traps and other items that have been used in past experiments are stored at the ERC and frequently these items can be adapted to current research projects.

The Ecology Research Center provides facilities for conducting field research in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

Students in the ERC classroom

In addition to the ERC's field research facilities, several large buildings augment research by providing space for:

  • office
  • teaching
  • laboratory analyses
  • equipment construction/storage

The main building houses the center manager's office, some storage areas and a classroom that can seat 20-25 students. This energy efficient building was designed in 1984 by Miami University faculty member Scott A. Johnston as part of a class project.

Near the main building is the office/laboratory (a trailer donated by Proctor and Gamble) that provides office space for those conducting long-term research. It's also used as a laboratory for basic analyses; it has a fume hood, environmental chambers, and a sink area.

The large barn is used to store agricultural machinery and tools, as well as field vehicles. During the summer vehicles are used on a regular basis; users need to schedule and sign up prior to use.

The smaller barns provide storage areas for various equipment such as drying ovens, refrigerator, grass mowing and trimming equipment, sampling equipment, hand tools, agricultural planting equipment, boats, etc. One of the barns houses a small wood shop and, during the summer months, another barn provides space for assembly of experimental devices as well as other research-related activities.

The weather station at the Ecology Research Center

Since 1979 the Ecology Research Center has been a site where weather and atmospheric chemistry data are recorded. Today, this weather station is managed by the Institute for the Environment & Sustainability (IES) as part of its public outreach and monitoring mission.

Daily and weekly monitoring by IES students and staff is funded by several national agencies (U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and serves the needs of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program/National Trends Network (precipitation chemistry) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) U.S. Weather Service.

Other data collected include ozone monitoring, dry deposition chemistry, solar radiation, temperature, and precipitation. For more information about this station, contact Dr. Jonathan Levy ( at the Institute for the Environment and Sustainability.


The current instrumentation in the ERC includes at least one of each of the following:

  • Stevenson screen instrument shelter
  • National Weather Service 8-inch precipitation stick gage
  • Belfort Model 5-780 12-inch dual-traverse rain gage
  • 4-inch plastic rain gage
  • Aerochem Metrics Model 301 wet/dry deposition collector
  • dataloggers
  • evaporation pan and hook gage
  • hygrothermograph
  • 7-day strip chart
  • 24-hour strip chart
  • anemometer
  • ozone analyzer
  • filter-pack system
  • other sensors
experimental pond
Our pond facility consists of a large supply pond that can fill 6 experimental ponds (~15 x 46 meters in size) all of which drain into a single recovery pond. The experimental ponds can be divided with curtains to create 12 replicates. Most of the experimentation in these ponds has focused on the role of nutrient cycling in the aquatic food web to better understand the ecology of Ohio's reservoirs.
An array of 24 aquatic mesocosms, each with a 5000-liter capacity, complements the pond facility. These mesocosms allow for better control of outdoor manipulation at a smaller scale that the ponds but at a larger scale than possible in the laboratory.
Aquatic Amphibian Habitat
An array of tanks is used to simulate shallow aquatic habitat that is used by tadpoles and salamanders. Research in these tanks allows an exploration of such factors as pesticides, habitat complexity and competition on the ability of these animals reach adulthood.
Agroecosystem Plots
The agroecosystem area includes 12 replicate plots, each approximately 0.4 hectare in size, in addition to several other larger fields. These plots typically planted with corn or soybeans in accordance with current research projects. The ERC manager is in charge of planting and harvesting the crops and the money from crop sales is used to maintain agricultural equipment and purchase seeds, herbicide and fertilizer for succeeding years.
A 1-hectare prairie was established in 1974 with regional genotypes of prairie plants, primarily big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman). Management techniques that have been used to restore this extraordinary prairie include burning treatments, routine mowing, and application of herbicides. The effectiveness of these techniques has been a focus of a comparative restoration study at the ERC.
Small Mammal Enclosures
An array of 0.1-hectare terrestrial enclosures at the ERC is primarily used for research on small mammal behavior and population ecology. These 16 enclosures are used to study the social behavior, population structure and life history of various species of rodents, primarily voles (Microtus spp).
open field

The ERC also has numerous fields and some forested areas that are available for research. Projects have manipulated patch size to explore the effects on insect diversity and dispersal, light input on terrestrial stages of amphibians, herbicide effects on spider emigration, cold tolerance in amphibians and reptiles, and explored the role of biodiversity on carbon sequestration.

Undergraduate Research

Miami University's Ecology and Environmental Science Research Experience for Undergraduates (Eco-REU) program provides an opportunity for undergraduates to perform ecological research at the ERC, attend professional meetings, participate in field trips, and hear well-known scientists speak. Students also have the opportunity to present their research results at a public symposium. Participants receive up to 12 free tuition semester hours, free housing, and a stipend for the work they complete.

Gary W. Barrett Research Grant

The Ecology Research Center is pleased and honored to offer an annual award of the Gary W. Barrett Research Grant. This grant provides funds, up to $1000, for materials and supplies for undergraduate research conducted at the ERC.

Dr. Gary W. Barrett, currently Odum Professor Emeritus of Ecology at the University of Georgia, was the founding director of the ERC in 1969 and served as its director until 1992. He is a strong supporter of undergraduate research and, while at Miami, fostered numerous undergraduate research projects, many of whom published their work in peer-reviewed journals. This grant is supported by an endowment donated primarily by Dr. Barrett to continue the tradition of quality and excellence in undergraduate research at the Ecology Research Center.

Proposals for undergraduate research are accepted each fall by the office for Research and Innovation (R&I). R&I encourages, initiates, assists, and celebrates faculty research, scholarship and effective teaching at Miami University by providing both internal and external grant funding opportunities. The Barrett Award Committee will review all ecologically related proposals that are received by R&I and will make their awards separately from R&I. For more information on the Gary W. Barrett Research Grant contact the Director, Ann Rypstra (

Cost Sharing

The ERC is occasionally able to provide a small amount of support for research conducted on site. The ERC can typically provide matching costs for equipment or materials that individuals need as long as those items are kept at the ERC and are available for use by other researchers. If cost sharing interests you please submit a brief description of the item, how the item will be used and an estimate of the cost to the Director, Ann Rypstra (

Ecology Research Center

Jeremy Fruth, Manager
5806 Somerville Road
Oxford, OH 45056