Thanks to the financial support of UCL 1 and of FNRS 2, and to the technical expertise of the UCL spin-off in Sustainable Architecture, “Matriciel” 3, a unique tropical climate room dedicated to the rearing of the model African butterfly Bicyclus anynana has been constructed for the Evolutionaty Ecology and Gentics group held by Prof. C. Nieberding.
This climate room is unique in that the warmth and humidity necessary for the butterflies (27°C and 80% of relative humidity) are partly produced using the heat from the ground, and the heat and humidity of used air is recycled and transferred to the fresh new air. This reduces the annual cost in electricity necessary to maintain such a controled tropical environment. The technical solutions developed to implement this project under a label of sustanaible development are available on demand (email to caroline.nieberdingclouvain.be) and we hope that in the near future, more tropical climate rooms will be built using the same low energy-consumption approach .
We will use this experimental climate room not only for research, but also for education and public sensitization. As researchers and teachers in ecology, we think that we have a particular responsibility in displaying pioneering environmentally friendly strategies in our professional environment, and lead the way for new practices in research, teaching, and sensitizing the public inside and outside the University.
The first generation of butterflies under development in the climate room in 2013... picture © Michel Pirnay
1 Grant ”Action de Recherche Concertée” for 2010-2015 (2010/15-031) titled
“Integrating evolution into ecological responses: changing life styles of organisms in changing environments”
2 National Scientific Research Foundation in Belgium