Warming Chambers

Research | Climate Change

What are the consequences of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem processes? Using open-top warming chambers, we are manipulating climate experimentally to understand how climate change affects insect communities and the processes they mediate. Built in 2009 at both Duke Forest in North Carolina and Harvard Forest in Massachusetts, the warming chambers consist of 12 open-top warming chambers that are pumped with warm air to simulate predicted environmental changes. It is one of the largest, most robust warming experiments in the world. We monitor population dynamics, species composition, phenology and behavior of ants and other arthropods occupying these experimental chambers. This experiment is an ongoing long-term ecological study that provides opportunities for collaborations across a broad spectrum of ecologists, including those studying biogeochemical, microbial and plant responses to warming.


Clint Penick, Post-doc
Lauren Nichols, Research Technician
Amy Savage, Post-doc
MJ Epps, Post-doc
Elsa Youngsteadt, Research Associate
Emily Meineke, Graduate Student

Project Publications

Diamond SE, Chick L, Penick CA, Nichols LM, Cahan SH, Dunn RR, Ellison AM, Sanders NJ, Gotelli NJ. (2017) Heat tolerance predicts the importance of species interaction effects as the climate changes. Integrative and Comparative Biology 57:112-120.

MacLean, H.J., Penick, C.A., Dunn, R.R., Diamond, S.E. (2017) Experimental winter warming modifies thermal performance and primes acorn ants for warm weather. Journal of Insect Physiology. 100: 77-81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinsphys.2017.05.010

Marchin, R.M., Broadhead, A.A., Bostic, L.E., Dunn, R.R., and Hoffmann, W.A. (2016). Stomatal acclimation to vapour pressure deficit doubles transpiration of small tree seedlings with warming. Plant, Cell & Environment 39, 2221–2234. doi: 10.1111/pce.12790. View PDF.

Pelini, S.L., S.E. Diamond, L.M. Nichols, K.L. Stuble, A.M. Ellison, N.J. Sanders, R.R. Dunn, N.J. Gotelli. 2014. Geographic differences in effects of experimental warming on ant species diversity and community composition. Ecological Society of America. View PDF.

Burt MA*, Nichols LM, Dunn RR, Sanders NJ (2014). Interactions in a warmer world: effects of experimental warming, conspecific density, and herbivory on seedling dynamics. Ecosphere 5:9. View PDF.

Diamond, S. E., C. Penick, S. L. Pelini, A. M. Ellison, N. J. Gotelli, N. J. Sanders, and Dunn RR. (2013). Using physiology to predict the responses of ants to climatic warming. Integrative and Comparative Biology 53:965-974. View PDF.

Stuble KL*, Pelini SL, Diamond SE, Fowler DA**, Dunn RR, Sanders NJ (2013). Foraging by forest ants under experimental climatic warming: a test at two sites. Ecology and Evolution 3:482-491. View PDF.

Stuble KL, Rodriguez-Cabal MA, McCormick GL, Jurić I, Dunn RR, et al. (2013). Tradeoffs, competition, and coexistence in eastern deciduous forest ant communities. Oecologia 171: 981-992. View PDF.

Diamond SE, Nichols LM, McCoy N, Hirsch C**, Pelini SL, Dunn RR (2012) A physiological trait-based approach to predicting the responses of species to experimental climate warming. Ecology 93: 2305-2312. View PDF.

Diamond, S. E., D. M. Sorger*, J. Hulcr, S. L. Pelini, I. Del Toro*, C. Hirsch**, E. Oberg, and Dunn RR. 2012. Who likes it hot? A global analysis of the climatic, ecological, and evolutionary determinants of warming tolerance in ants. Global Change Biology 18:448-456. View PDF.

Pelini SL, Diamond SE, MacLean H*, Ellison AM, Gotelli NJ, Dunn RR (2012) Common garden experiments reveal uncommon responses across temperatures, locations, and species of ants. Ecology and Evolution 2: 3009-3015. View PDF.

Pelini, S. L., Boudreau, M., McCoy, N., Ellison, A. M., Gotelli, N. J., Sanders, N. J., Dunn, R. R. 2011. Effects of short-term warming on low and high latitude forest ant communities. Ecosphere 2: art62.

Pelini, S. L., Bowles, F. P., Ellison, A. M., Gotelli, N. J., Sanders, N. J., Dunn, R. R. 2011. Heating up the forest: open-top chamber warming manipulation of arthropod communities at Harvard and Duke Forests. Methods in Ecology and Evolution : doi: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2011.00100.

Additional Project Publications

Marquis M, Del Toro I, SL Pelini. 2014. Insect mutualisms buffer warming effects on multiple trophic levels. Ecology. 95:9-13. View PDF.