Tales from the NIBIO Svanhovd station in Norway (Part 2)

Root sampling – hidden interactions in the underground

Imagine being told that a sunny day with a light wind (good against mosquitos!) occurs for only about ten days per year in this region. And imagine working in the field on one of those days! In the beginning of August, I joined two NIBIO scientists on a road trip to the Varanger Fjord. We drove past an old trading and meeting place that may be used in winter but is a swamp in summertime, an island that looks like a submarine, and some reindeers standing in the road ditches. We ended up in an alpine landscape where we wanted to take samples for the INTERACT-VEGA (Vegetation Dynamics of the Arctic) remote access project (a project submitted by Dr. Tomas Roslin from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and his doctoral student Bastien Parisy at the University of Helsinki).

To work successfully in the field you need to be certain that you take everything with you there, but you also need to find everything again for the way back. Photo: Helena Klöckener.

This project works on the microbiological community associated with different plant species in the Arctic. We took root and soil samples linked to the plant species dwarf birch (Betula nana), bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), crow berry (Empetrum nigrum), and mountain avens (Dryas octopetala). Plants are not only depending on insects but also many species of microorganisms as bacteria and fungi. This project aims to reconstruct the post-glacial colonization of the plants and the related microorganisms to find out if the association of plant species and their microorganisms occurs because of historical events, environment and/or their biotic interactions. Therefore, in addition to the root and soil sampling, the humidity and the pH-value of the soil were taken. By the way, on that day the soil had a temperature of 20°C and illustrated well the quick warming of the surface by the albedo effect.

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