Contributions of MIREN to ecology and conservation

MIREN has worked hard over the past 15 years to study species redistributions in our changing mountains. The latter resulted in a series of scientific publications. As these are not all easily accessible to everybody, we decided to work on a summary of our findings: the contributions of MIREN to ecology and conservation. Find the first chapter here, and stay tuned for more!

Overview of the regions participating in MIRENs baseline screening and monitoring as of October 2018.

MIREN news!

Find here our first periodic update from all across the MIREN-network, summarizing all the ongoing projects. A must-read for whoever wants to stay on top of what MIREN is doing!

Poa mireniana

Poa mireniana  (c) Ian Clarke


MIREN proudly presents its new mascot: Poa mireniana, a newly described grass species discovered by our colleagues in Australia while performing MIREN surveys.

We are honoured as a network to be immortalized like this!


Find a description of the species here, and a blogpost on the discovery here.

MIREN Trail Survey 2018

MIREN is performing a global survey of invasive plant species distributions along mountain trails. You can help by submitting observations from the focal species from along mountain trails with a GPS or your smartphone.

This page gives you the protocol for our fast trail survey. More time? Contact us for our detailed survey of trailside plant species composition.

MIREN needs you to help with data collection! If you are heading for the mountains this summer, you can be our hero. With the ‘MIREN Trail Survey’, you can join our search for globally invasive plant species along mountain trails. With the combined effort of mountain scientists worldwide, we want to track where and how fast these species are travelling into the mountains, and what defines their current limits along mountain trails in both their native and invasive range.

MIREN Trail Survey sites as of 12/09/2018.


  • The current (2nd) season of the project runs summer 2018 (Northern Hemisphere) and summer 2018-2019 (Southern Hemisphere)

What do you need?

  • A GPS or smartphone, a mountain trail and a good set of eyes, that’s all.

Which plant species to look for?

We are focussing on the following species, yet welcome observations on other non-native plant species if they are of interest in your region. We advise to focus on one or a few species only during your hike.

  • Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  • Red clover (Trifolium pratense)
  • White clover (Trifolium repens)
  • Narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata).

Where to do it?

  • Along mountain trails in every mountain region in the world. We prefer trails at high elevations (towards and above the tree line) and trails that span a certain elevational range (more than 100 meters in elevation). The species are native to Europe and introduced in many other regions. We encourage collecting observations in both their native and invasive range.

How to do it?

  • When you walk along the trail, we ask you to keep an eye out for our species and safe their location everytime you see one into your gps or your smartphone (via the app Survey123).

Detailed instructions

With a smartphone

  • Download the app Survey123 for ArcGIS.
  • Contact us at to get log-in information. Log-in and search for the ‘MIREN Trails’-project.
  • At the start of your hike, click on ‘Collect’, fill in your information and mark ‘Start of trail’. You’ll be asked some questions about the trail. Save the record afterwards. WARNING: make sure your smartphone-GPS is accurate! Look at where the point is marked and – if needed – refresh. 
  • Next? Tighten your shoelaces and start walking! If you then observe a non-native plant, click ‘Collect’ again and fill in a new form. Mark the species and patch size. If the species occurs more or less continuously (individuals or patches closer than 5 m from each other), mark the first observation (start of > 5 meters patch) and keep hiking untill you don’t see the species anymore. Then mark the end (end of > 5 meters patch).
  • Mark any possible introductory points of interest (i.e. huts, ski lifts…).
  • Don’t forget to mark the end of the trail, and make sure the data gets submitted.

Note that at the top right of the form, you can preset your answers as favorites, so you can automatically fill in the form for your next observation.

Data manipulation would be facilitated a lot if you could send us a .GPX-file of your trail, either from the internet, a GPS, or a tracking app (e.g. Trail Tracker, $1.99). 

With a gps

  • Contact us at to express your interest and download the ‘Trail Sampling Form’ to fill out.
  • Save a Waypoint at the start of the trail. We suggest to number your waypoints (1, 2, 3, …) and write down their meaning, or use a coding that is not confusing (i.e. Start, Tr, Am, …).
  • Next? Tighten your shoelaces and start walking! If you observe a non-native plant, safe the observation as a new waypoint. If the species occurs more or less continuously (individuals or patches closer than 5 m from each other), mark the first observation (start of > 5 meters patch) and keep hiking untill you don’t see the species anymore. Then mark the end of the patch.
  • Mark any possible introductory points of interest (i.e. huts, ski lifts…). Don’t forget to mark the end of the trail.
  • If possible, track your trail with the appropriate GPS-function.
  • Send the GPS-data and filled-out ‘Trail Sampling Form’ to

Contact us via if you have any remaining questions!
Check out this story for an impression of how the project goes in the field. 

What will happen with the data?
1. Data will be used for meta-analysis purposes. Every participant keeps the right to publish their data independently or in collaboration with MIREN.
2. For interested scientsts: co-authorship in the paper(s) resulting from this survey will be offered to one person per region that submits a minimum amount of data (by surveying >5 km of trail).
3. After publication of the main global paper, data will be made freely accessible, acknowledging that paper and its contributors.


MIREN paper awarded W.S. Cooper award from ESA

The MIREN paper in PNAS, which experimentally disentangles the drivers of plant invasion in mountains using a comparative field experiment between Chile and Sweden, has won the W.S. Cooper award from the Ecological Society of America. Congratulations to Jonas Lembrechts and the team!


W.S. Cooper Award: Jonas J. Lembrechts, Aníbal Pauchard, Jonathan Lenoir, Martin A. Nuñez, Charly Géron, Arne Ven, Pablo Bravo-Monasterio, Ernesto Teneb, Ivan  Nijs, and Ann Milbau.

The Cooper Award honors the authors of an outstanding publication in the field of geobotany, physiographic ecology, plant succession or the distribution of plants along environmental gradients. William S. Cooper was a pioneer of physiographic ecology and geobotany, with a particular interest in the influence of historical factors, such as glaciations and climate history, on the pattern of contemporary plant communities across landforms.

Cold places are notable for their comparative lack of non-native plants. But figuring out why this is the case is difficult given that high-elevation and high-latitude habitats tend to be not only cold, but also relatively undisturbed, remote, and nutrient-poor. In an ambitious set of experiments, Jonas Lembrechts and colleagues experimentally manipulated disturbance, nutrients, and seed input along elevational gradients in southern South America and northern Scandinavia. They found that disturbance had the strongest effect at all sites, allowing non-native species to establish well above their current elevational limits. The results have clear implications for the future of cold-climate ecosystems affected by warming and increased rates of disturbance.