The Metatron: a large connectivity experiment

The Metatron Experiment

The Metatron Experiment

A new, large experimental network of corridors promises to test aspects of corridor function that are nearly impossible to control in observational studies. The Metatron consists of a series of enclosed experimental patches, each 10×10 m2. The environments within the patches, including the temperature, light intensity, and humidity, can all be controlled with precision. The patches are connected by 19 m long corridors, which are also under experimental control. The Metatron is unprecedented for its combination of size and experimental control.

If it succeeds, the Metatron will allow tests of corridors that are difficult to impossible in nature. For example, although corridors are created or restored to increase population persistence, there are no good tests in nature that they do this. Further, for ethical reasons, it is difficult to test the effects of corridors on invasive species, and experimental work on invasives is possible in the Metatron. Inevitably, there are tradeoffs between tests of corridors in experimental (controlled, less realistic) and observational (realistic, less controlled) studies. Both are needed to successful test and understand the role of corridors.


Legrand, D., O. Guillaume, M. Baguette, J. Cote, A. Trochet, O. Calvez, S. Zajitschek, F. Zajitschek, J. Lecomte, Q. Benard, J. Le Galliard, and J. Clobert. 2012. The Metatron: an experimental system to study dispersal and metaecosystems for terrestrial organisms. Nature Methods 9:828-833.

Haddad, N.M. 2012. Connecting ecology and conservation through experiment. Nature Methods 794-795.

2016-10-14T10:11:17+00:00 August 29th, 2012|

About the Author:

Nick Haddad
Dr. Nick Haddad is Senior Terrestrial Ecologist in the Department of Integrative Biology at Michigan State University and Kellogg Biological Station. For more than 20 years, he has been studying how plants and animals use corridors. He has worked in the largest and longest-running corridor experiment, the Savannah River Site Corridor Project, and he has studied natural corridors used by rare butterflies.