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.
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.
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.
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!
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 email@example.com
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.
New MIREN blog for MRI by Jonas Lembrechts.
What is the state of plant invasions in the alpine zone, and how worried do we have to be about the future?
What we desperately needed was an overview, a clear idea on how bad – or good – the situation with plant invasions above the tree line really is. That overview is finally here and combines data from 36 sources for 15 mountain regions all over the globe. The results confirm our worried feelings: the alpine zone is not free of plant invasions. Not anymore. An astonishing 183 different species have been observed, all of them alien to at least one of these 15 mountain regions.
Read the full blog here!