Technology In Ecology

Banner: Technology in Ecology. Logo with plant in green circle, surrounded by circuit-board lines

The Technology in Ecology Lab collaborates extensively within SERC and globally to design and support technological innovation, serving ecological research, experimental design, and data infrastructure. Ultimately, we aim to utilize open-source technology sensor platforms, like Arduino, to provide low-cost novel methods to monitor environmental phenomena. Using this approach, we develop and support several ongoing climate change experiments, including SMARTX, GENX, and MERIT, and maintain sensor and data infrastructure for the MarineGEO Chemical and Physical Observations Program.

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Oxygen priming induced by elevated CO2 reduced carbon accumulation and methane emission in coastal wetlands
January 5, 2023
Genevieve published a paper in Nature Geoscience on the SMARTX elevated CO2 and warming experiment!

     "Warming temperatures and elevated CO2 are inextricably linked global change phenomena, but they are rarely manipulated together in feld experiments. As a result, ecosystem-level responses to these interacting facets of global change remain poorly understood. Here we report on a four-year feld manipulation of warming and elevated CO2 in a coastal wetland. Contrary to our expectations, elevated CO2 combined with warming reduced the rate of carbon accumulation due to increases in plant-mediated oxygen fux that stimulated aerobic decomposition via oxygen priming. Evidence supporting this interpretation includes an increase in soil redox potential and a decrease in the nominal oxidation state of the dissolved organic carbon pool. While warming alone stimulated methane (CH4) emissions, we found that elevated CO2 combined with warming reduced net CH4 fux due to plant–microbe feedbacks. Together, these results demonstrate that ecosystem responses to interacting facets of global change are mediated by plant traits that regulate the redox state of the soil environment. Thus, plant responses are critical for predicting future ecosystem survival and climate feedbacks." 

Genevieve L. Noyce, Alexander J. Smith, Matthew L. Kirwan, Roy L. Rich  & J. Patrick Megonigal

Screenshot of paper title

Even modest climate change may lead to major transitions in boreal forests
August 10, 2022
Roy published a paper in Nature on the impacts of warming in southern boreal forests!

“The sensitivity of forests to near-term warming and associated precipitation shifts remains uncertain. Herein, using a 5-year open-air experiment in southern boreal forest, we show divergent responses to modest climate alteration among juveniles of nine co-occurring North American tree species.” 

Reich, P.B., Bermudez, R., Montgomery, R.A., Rich, R.L., Rice, K.E., Hobbie, S.E., and Stefanski, A. (2022).


Screenshot of paper title

Considering coasts: Adapting terrestrial models to characterize coastal wetland ecosystems
June 15, 2021
Genevieve, Roy, and Pat published modified E3SM models to mimic tidal marsh dynamics and SMARTX findings in Ecological Modeling!

“The Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) simulates fully coupled processes and interactions among water, energy, carbon and nutrient cycles. E3SM connects vegetation and soil dynamics through nutrient uptake, plant production, litterfall and decomposition as a function of abiotic parameters (e.g. temperature and moisture). However, E3SM is designed to characterize terrestrial ecosystems and connects land and open ocean systems using a single streamflow transport term, ignoring the complex dynamics of energy, water, carbon, and nutrients in coastal systems. The goals of our project were to: (1) Parameterize a point version of E3SM to capture coastal wetland habitats and (2) Determine marsh community responses to increased temperature and elevated CO2.” 

O’Meara, T.A., Thornton, P.E., Ricciuto, D.M.,Noyce, G. L., Rich, R.L., and Megonigal, J. P. (2021).


Screenshot of paper title

Biogeochemical and plant trait mechanisms drive enhanced methane emissions in response to whole-ecosystem warming
April 19, 2021
Genevieve and Pat published findings from SMARTX in Biogeosciences!

“Climate warming perturbs ecosystem carbon (C) cycling, causing both positive and negative feedbacks on greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016, we began a tidal marsh field experiment in two vegetation communities to investigate the mechanisms by which whole-ecosystem warming alters C gain, via plant-driven sequestration in soils, and C loss, primarily via methane (CH4) emissions. Here, we report the results from the first 4 years.”

Noyce, G. L. and Megonigal, J. P. (2021).


Synergistic effects of four climate change drivers on terrestrial carbon cycling

Synergistic effects of four climate change drivers on terrestrial carbon cycling
November 23, 2020
Roy published a paper in Nature Geoscience with TeRaCON collaborators!

"Disentangling impacts of multiple global changes on terrestrial carbon cycling is important, both in its own right and because such impacts can dampen or accelerate increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Here we report on an eight-year grassland experiment, TeRaCON, in Minnesota, United States, that factorially manipulated four drivers: temperature, rainfall, CO2 and nitrogen deposition.”

Reich, P. B., Hobbie, S. E., Lee, T. D., Rich, R., Pastore, M. A., & Worm, K. (2020). 






SMARTX C4 census with many people sitting under umbrellas

March 21, 2023
Former Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow Elise Eeraerts and Roberto Aparicio Ronda opened their video installation Like snakes, the roots of trees, Coil themselves from rock and sandThis work was created in collaboration with the Technology and Ecology lab, and explores the intersection of fable and fact in wetlands. 

Photo: Joeri Thiry STUK

January 18, 2023
SERC Post-doc Alia Al-Haj is featured in the Hakai Magazine article Salt Marsh Microbes Threaten to Reshape the Atmosphere. She explains her Marsh Organ experiment, and the importance of smelling salt marshes! 

Photo: Christian Elliott

August 5, 2022
A successful 2022 GCREW census! The Biogeochemistry and TE lab technicians, interns, and volunteers all worked together over a two-week period to count, measure, and clip thousands of stems in our annual census. 

Photo: Genevieve Noyce




December 22, 2021
Happy Holidays and New Year from the TE Lab!

Find more about our GENX holiday lights here!

Photo: Roy Rich







October 29, 2021
GCREW experienced record high tides!

Photo: Genevieve Noyce






August 13, 2021
The TE Lab has deployed a new weather station at the Global Change Research Wetland! The station uses multiple instruments to collect MET, water level, and soil data every 15 minutes.

Photo: Leona Neftaliem





April 2, 2021
Automated methane chambers designed by Roy and Genevieve have become the newest addition to the Global Change Research Wetland! Twelve methane chambers were deployed as a part of GENX to capture methane data at short time scales, including methane changes in response to precipitation, tidal cycles, and other weather events.

Photo: Genevieve Noyce



Marc Rosenfield in wetland beside CO2 sensor

March 5, 2021
Marc deployed a pilot experiment at the Virginia Coast Reserve using our CO2 sensors! Marc will be deploying 24 more sensors on the Eastern shore of Virginia to capture CO2 dynamics at a rapidly changing terrestrial-aquatic interface.

Photo: Marc Rosenfield







Photo: Genevieve Noyce


Pathfinder is an upcoming project with the aim of creating more broadly accessible technology for measuring local-level carbon emissions, based on the work we have already done to create DIY logger systems at SERC, elsewhere in the US, and in Germany. Over the course of the upcoming summer we hope to develop, build, and field test an auto-chamber system for measuring carbon (CO2 and CH4) flux that is low cost, deployable under solar power in remote areas, and capable of long-duration high-temporal-resolution carbon flux measurements. 


Photo: Genevieve Noyce


The Greenhouse gas Emissions NeXus experiment is the newest experiment at the Global Change Research Wetland led by Genevieve Noyce. Using an automated methane chamber system, GENX aims to quantify rates of anaerobic decomposition pathways that regulate methane emissions across different time scales. Additional elements like warming, salinity, and inundation will also be incorporated to determine the individual and interactive effects of these variables on methane cycling.


The Terrestrial Ecosystem Manipulation to Probe the Effects of Storm Treatment (TEMPEST) project is run as a partnership between SERC, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the U.S. Department of Energy. The TEMPEST project is monitoring the effects of massive storm events on forest ecosystems, by applying large quantities of salt and fresh water to forest plots. The TE Lab supports the TEMPEST project by helping to maintain the electronic infrastructure deployed in the forest ecosystem. 



Photo: Genevieve Noyce


We support the data infrastructure of the Salt Marsh Accretion Response to Temperature eXperiment which models how future climate predictions will influence salt marshes, by maintaining a network of 6 remote CO2 sensors and warming cables. SMARTX aims to assess plant response to interacting variables (elevated CO2, an increasing temperature gradient above- and below-ground, and changes in inundation frequency) at SERC’s Global Change Research Wetland.




Photo: Mónica Salazar


The Marsh Ecosystem Response to Increased Temperature is a warming experiment replicating SMARTX infrastructure in collaboration with scientists at the University of Hamburg to measure how salt marshes will be impacted by elevated temperatures in a Northern Sea coastal ecosystem. We support MERIT by implementing Arduino-based technology to create an affordable wireless control network allowing for analyses of plant community responses, successional dynamics, carbon sequestration, and soil accretion.

Follow @ExperimentMERIT for project updates!



Photo: Marc Rosenfield

Carbon in the Capital

Carbon in the Capital is a new CO2 monitoring citizen science project in collaboration with Ph.D. candidate Marc Rosenfield in the Zanne lab at George Washington University. Carbon in the Capital has deployed 33 of our CO2 sensors throughout all 8 Wards of Washington D.C. to monitor changes in emissions during COVID-19 lockdowns. So far, results capture important interplays between transportation emissions and natural signals, which can be significant to mitigating human impacts on the carbon cycle and urban greenhouse gas removal.

Find more details on Marc’s project here!



Photo: Roy Rich


TeRaCON (Temperature, Rainfall, CO2, Nitrogen) is an 8-year-long novel global change experiment in collaboration with Dr. Peter Reich at the University of Minnesota. TeRaCON exposes vegetation in a Minnesotan temperate grassland to manipulated temperatures, rainfall patterns, CO2, and nitrogen to examine the effects of these global change drivers on terrestrial carbon cycling. For TeRaCON, we designed warming infrastructure to manipulate temperature.

Find more about TeRaCON and its findings in Nature Geoscience!








Affiliated Persons

Thomas Kibalo

Close up of Tom Kibalo

Susy Ellison

Susy Ellison at an Artic field site
  • Volunteer, SERC
  • B.S. Wildlife Biology, Cornell University; M.Ed., Colorado State University
  • Retired classroom environmental educator
  • Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Educator of the Year, 2008
  • Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award, 2010


Leona Neftaliem

Leona Neftaliem in front of scientific poster

Research Technician
Biogeochemistry Lab, SERC


Marc Rosenfield

Marc at the Virginia Coastal Reserve
  • Visiting Scientist, SERC
  • Graduate Student, Zanne lab, George Washington University

Allegra Tashjian

Allegra in the snow
Research Technician
Biogeochemistry Lab, SERC






We use an Arduino-based data logger platform for our CO2 sensors, which have been deployed throughout Washington, D.C. and in various projects at SERC’s Global Change Research Wetland. Our CO2 sensors feature additional components to measure temperature, humidity, and pressure alongside CO2 measurements, and capture these data every 5 minutes. These robust sensors can capture nonhomogeneous (transitional interfaces, or even patchier environments) landscape dynamics influencing carbon fluxes at a local scale.

Find our 2019 protocol for building our Arduino-based data logger platform here and sensor calibration protocol here.

For GitHub inquiries, please contact us at

For access to video protocols, contact