North Wyke (latitude 3° 54’ W; longitude 50° 46’N) lies in undulating countryside 7 km to the north of Dartmoor National Park, midway between the villages of South and North Tawton. The River Taw marks the western boundary and flows northwards through the site. At an altitude of 120 m to 180 m the site covers 250 ha, of which 200 ha are grassland and 50 ha are deciduous woodland. The area is underlain by the Carboniferous Crackington Formation,comprising of clay shales forming clay soils of the Hallsworth, Halstow and Denbigh/Cherubeer soil series, collectively known as the Culm Measures. Alongside the River Taw deposits of gravel and sandy alluvium form a narrow band of well drained soils of the Teign series.
All ECN sites have a Target Sampling Site (TSS) where destructive sampling is kept to a minimum and the management is kept consistent for the duration of the ECN programme. The North Wyke TSS is a 0.66 ha paddock of permanent grassland where no nitrogen fertiliser has been applied since at least 1984. The TSS and surrounding area, known as Rowden Moor, have been generally managed less intensively than the rest of North Wyke. Some small pockets of semi-natural grassland and the deciduous woodlands have been left relatively unmanaged. Land management at North Wyke from 1992 to 2012 did not change substantially. However some disturbance took place to farm field boundaries in 2010 during the installation of the Farm Platform.
Species differ in their responses to environmental change; some species may be more tolerant to a specific environmental stress than others. The ECN monitors a range of contrasting species with different distributions, life histories (reproduction rates, life span etc.), mobility and ecological requirements within differing ecosystems.
The River Taw originates at Taw Head in Dartmoor National Park and flows for 72 km until it reaches the Bristol Channel on the north coast of Devon.
Changes in climate (e.g. temperature and rainfall) along with the deposition of major ions (wet and dry deposition) can affect the health and behaviour of soils.
Atmospheric pollution is a major driver of environmental change and can damage human health. Therefore, since the mid-1950s, UK and European legislation and treaties have been implemented to reduce air pollutants. ECN data show that these have been effective.
Long-term meteorological observations can be used to identify changes and trends in climate that may have a positive or negative impact on the environment.
Routine measurements are carried out at ECN Rothamsted, ECN North Wyke and the other 9 terrestrial sites. The physical, atmospheric and biological measurements made at all sites adhere to a suite of clearly defined published analytical protocols. The resulting datasets which are comparable across sites can be accessed through the ECN data centre. Additional datasets unique to Rothamsted can be obtained through the electronic Rothamsted Archive