James Mickley:
Measuring Microenvironment using DIY Environmental Microcontroller Units (EMUs)

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Dr. James Mickley is the herbarium curator at Oregon State University. Dr. Timothy Moore is the director of the Statistical Consulting Services at the University of Connecticut. Drs. Mickley and Moore were both former PhD students in the same lab in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut.

Slider 1

Current measurement technologies force a trade-off between collecting data at broad spatial scales while simultaneously capturing environmental variation at the fine spatial and temporal scales. We introduce environmental microcontroller units (EMUs), data loggers designed and built to accurately measure fine-scale variation in temperature, humidity, light, and soil moisture at low cost, and detail how to construct them. Parts for EMUs cost less than $20 per unit; an order of magnitude less than comparable commercial loggers. With the growing availability of inexpensive microcontrollers and hobbyist electronics, the time is ripe to tap into the versatility and computational power of do-it-yourself electronics. In addition to marked cost advantages, EMUs are both more flexible and more capable than most commercial options.