Invading plants… Plant species follow us everywhere we go on our travels, resulting in a global exchange of species that only intensified with the increased globalization. No regions but the most pristine are nowadays free of invaders. The arctic mountains long seemed to be protected by their cold and inhospitable environment, but as we are starting to use the north more and more, the invading species inevitably follow. Up and higher, every year a little bit further north, every year a few more plants. Traveling attached to car tires or the mud underneath a traveler’s shoe, species like this white clover are becoming a common sight in the arctic mountains.
We follow these traveling plants to the cold climate of the north, and further, into the mountains. After a first inventory of the alien species in Norwegian mountain roadsides in the summer of 2013 (you can read more about the basic findings here), we started an experiment to unravel the different factors that limit and promote this plant invasion in (sub)arctic mountains. For this purpose, we planted seeds of typical alien species in controlled plots on different elevations in the mountains. Their germination has already been proved, as can be seen on the picture.
This exciting two-year experiment brings us to the far north (Abisko, Sweden), but also the most southern part of the world (Punta Arenas, Chile). With the support of INTERACT, we will organize two field campaigns to Abisko this season, to measure winter survival in spring and harvest the total biomass of the aliens at the end of their second growing season.
My name is Jonas Lembrechts, I am a brand-new PhD-student from the University of Antwerp in Belgium, and a committed scientific blogger (this is my personal blog!). I am part of an international team of scientists from Sweden, Chile, Argentina and Belgium and I am happy to share our international adventures with you on this blog.