The Chinese Ecological Research Network (CERN), proposed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in 1987 and authorized by Chinese Government in 1991, is a comprehensive research network system of linking established ecological and environmental observation and experiment stations located at different natural zones across China. The characteristics of CERN are as follows:1) CERN is an interdisciplinary and comprehensive research network;2) CERN will focus on the studies on the trends of changes in structures and functions of ecosystems under the strong actions of human activities, 3) CERN will predict macro-ecological environmental problems caused by human activities. CERN includes three levels, i.e. ecological research stations subcenters and synthetic centers, and four support systems, i.e. research system and management system. The ecological research stations are the basic units of CERN to make the long-term monitoring for ecological and environmental elements, and also the bodies to conduct comprehensive studies on struCtures and functions of ecosystems. At present, CERN has 52 research stations, among which 26 are agricultural ecological stations, 13 forest ecological stations, 5 grassland ecological stations, and 8 lake and sea stations. The subcenters are nodes of CERN. Four subcenters are planned at the present stage. They are Hydrological subcenter, Soil subcenter, Atmospheric subcenter and Biological subcenter. The Synthetic Center Plays the role of the pivot of the network.