PhD Position University of Lausanne

The Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, is currently inviting applications for 1 PhD Student SNSF position in Novel plant-soil interactions in the group of Prof. Jake Alexander, starting 1st January 2018 or shortly thereafter. The position is fully funded through the Swiss SNF project “Ecological consequences of novel plant-soil interactions under changing climate” for 3 years (1 year contract renewable for 2 additional years, at 100 %).

More info here!

Norwegian fieldwork adventures on the INTERACT blog

Beautiful plants and fascinating adventures: follow the updates from our Norwegian team on the blog from INTERACT, a European program to stimulate international research in the Arctic.

A preview of the latest story:

The roadside effect: visual proof

Mountain roadsides, the most fascinating places on earth. That is, if you believe a PhD-student who has been studying them for more than 5 years now.

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Alpine species like the pincushion plant (Diapensia lapponica) and the alpine bearberry (Arctostaphylos alpinus) enjoy a roadside ‘rock garden’ overlooking a Norwegian fjord.

We returned safely from our fieldwork season in the northern Scandes, with suitcases full of data proving the fascinating role of mountain roads in plant species distributions. Whether they are non-native species advancing in cohorts from the valley, or alpine species exploring the rocky conditions, countless species seem to profit from this peculiar ecosystem.

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Yellow mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga aizoides), a plant typical for rocky alpine environments, thriving in between the roadside gravel.

This pattern is strikingly visible with the naked eye already: next time in the mountains just look at the roadside and admire the differences with the natural vegetation next to it. But we aim for more than visual proof only, of course.

8th MIREN meeting, Centennial Valley, Montana (2017)

From July 31 to August 3, 2017, a group of 19 MIREN members met in Montana to discuss the current state of the network and the future projects and challenges. It was a busy week in “cowboy country” and we went home with a loaded agenda for the next years. We will soon give more details about some of those projects that include continuing our T-MIREN surveys, hiking trail surveys, plant traits, soil biota and mycorrhiza, microclimate studies, modelling species distributions, seeding experiments and more.

We also would like to welcome a new co-chair, Sylvia Haider (best of lucks with this endeavour!) and say many thanks to Lisa Rew who is stepping down as co-chair after 5 years on the position. Sylvia will joint Jake Alexander who will continue as co-chair for another two years. There are also changes in the Coordination of MIREN as Christoph Kueffer is stepping down from this position, after many successful years of “herding cats”, and Jonas Lembrechts and Aníbal Pauchard are taking the challenge of external coordination of the network.

Finally, we are  pleased to announce that the next MIREN meeting will be in Switzerland in the summer of 2019.

The network has grown bigger and stronger from its beginnings in 2005 in Vienna, and more and more regions and researchers are becoming part of MIREN and its projects. This of course, creates new opportunities but also new challenges for all of us.

In summary, many exiting news and plenty of work for all!

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A new MIREN site in the Arid Andes in Argentina

MIREN is including a new site for assessing and monitoring plant invasions on mountain roads in the Arid Andes in Mendoza, Argentina. To support this research the Natural Private Protected Area Villavicencio is providing funding to conduct field work on three protected areas of high conservation value but currently threatened by important plant invaders for the region such as Rosa rubiginosa. Field work for this project will start in November 2016.

To know more about Villavicencio and this research project, please visit http://www.rnvillavicencio.com.ar/reservanatural.html

Contact person: Agustina Barros anaagustinabarros@gmail.com

Where we disturb nature, the invaders quickly follow

By Jonas Lembrecht

The pushy character of non-native species has of course never been a secret. Several studies also showed undeniably that the aforementioned factors played a role in the matter. Yet science was far from solving all remaining mysteries in the mountains. To know which of these factors plays the decisive role, what drives the recent expansions of non-natives to colder environments, and – most importantly – what the future of plant invasion in mountains will be, an overarching experiment was needed to disentangle what was seen in observational studies. With that idea in mind, a team of ecologists from Europe and South-America joined forces. They went to extreme ends of the world to set up an experiment in two sub(ant)arctic mountain areas, one in the northern Scandes in Sweden, the other in the southern Andes in Chile.

 

Read more here!

Check the PNAS paper here.