Biosphere 2 at 20

Here I am in March inside Biosphere 2's "human habitat" area near where the tour starts with some activities I created. Through the panes of glass behind me lie the mangrove swamp, ocean, and desert.

Biosphere 2 was in the news in the last few days throughout their Earth Day celebration and the 20th anniversary of the original biospherean missions, in which people tried to live inside the sealed, regenerative system in the early 1990’s.

One of the main lessons learned from those missions was the importance of Biosphere 1: the earth. So it is appropriate to celebrate both anniversaries at the same time. While the article today suggests the structure could serve as an “ark” for endangered plants, it is clearly not large enough to support self-sustaining populations of large forest trees. The inability of scientists who study ecological communities to predict the interactions of all the species from around the world meeting one another for the first time inside Biosphere 2 clearly pointed out how far we had to go to in understanding ecology.

That is why I am working on my PhD, to contribute to a better understanding of populations’ interactions, especially in the case of new interactions. I plan to study how invasive plants affect the populations of native species when they spread out of control, as many grasses and thistles have done in North America (and worldwide really).

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