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!

MIREN2017-meeting

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.

More. Higher. Faster.

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!

 

Temperature-affinity-of-the-non-natives.jpg

How to make finding a needle in a haystack seem easy

by Jonas Lembrechts (from the MRI blogs)

Ecological fieldwork in the mountains can be challenging. There are days you wish that you were cozily stacking test tubes in the lab, or safely analyzing data in the office. Some days, battling rain, cold, mosquitos and 50-kg packs that don’t include lunch just doesn’t add up to a dream job, even if you’re working in a dream location (if only you could actually see it beyond the clouds!) And then there is the work itself, which brings with it its own set of difficulties.

Just imagine: hundreds of soil temperature sensors, only one cm in diameter each. Let me tell you from my own experience: that is super tiny, especially when you scatter them in the soil over a large area in the Norwegian mountains. Then, just to test our scientific dedication, we leave them for a year before – fingers crossed! – retrieving them and their valuable data.

see more at http://www.blogs-mri.org/?p=1284