Plain of Jars – the world’s oldest man-made biological experiment
In central Laos, thousands of large stone jars have been left from ancient burial rituals. Together, these jars form a massive biological experiment: for 2000 years, rainwater has interacted with geology to create unique yet perfectly replicated ecosystems that include organisms ranging from microbes to aquatic plants.
The unprecedented age and high number of replicates offers a unique opportunity for unfolding one of ecology’s long-standing questions: What shapes biological communities?
Using novel sampling techniques, the project will strengthen the understanding of the importance of environmental conditions and habitat isolation for biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems.