My colleague and I fly to Siberia tomorrow after a nervous wait to receive our visas from the Russian embassy. The visas arrived with three days to spare! Once there we plan to map how meadow vegetation varies with soil hydrology across the floodplain of the River Ob. Our project is called SiberNiche.
An advance party of botanists went out to the Mukhrino Field Station last week and have sent back reports that they are making good progress (see photo.)
The River Ob and its tributaries are unsually high for the time of year meaning much of the lower floodplain is inaccessible, but given the floodplain is several kilometres across, there is still plenty of vegetation to map and at least travelling around the floodplain by boat is easy at the moment.
We chose the Ob for this fieldwork because it represents the eastern limit of the biogeographical range for many of the meadow plants that we have been studying for the past twenty years. We have described the ecohydrological tolerances of these species for the highly-managed meadow systems of the UK. Our mission in this project is to test whether these tolerances hold true in a continental rather than a maritime climate and in a totally unmanaged system.
From London, it will be a four-hour flight to Moscow and there we change planes for another four-hour flight east to Khanti-Mansiysk. Moving our watches forward by five hours in the process means we will lose a whole night. It may be a day or two before I am organised enough to post again!