Above the polar circle – Norway

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Norway is a beautiful place to work

Mountain ecologist Jonas Lembrechts spent ten intense fieldwork days above the polar circle in Sweden and Norway, where he follows non-native plant species and their spread in the mountains. This post appears in a serie on this expedition. The story appears simultaneously in Dutch on Scilogs.be and in English on this website. 

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Making soup in a river bed with amazing views

We decided to interrupt the Swedish fieldwork (of the previous posts) with a camping trip to Norway. The Norwegian fjords are only an hour or more driving from Abisko, and it is in that exciting environment that we follow the diversity of native and non-native plants since 2012 (check out this website en my publication). This summer brought us back to the Norwegian mountains for some very important abiotic measurements. A year ago, we hid temperataure sensors all along our gradient – some roads ranging from sea-and-fjord level to high in the mountains. This year, I hoped for a very valuable harvest.

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Measuring air temperature with a home-made improvised weather station

Our main task on our camping trip would be the hunt for these sensors, not much bigger than tiny batteries, and very well hidden in the massive mountain area (check here how they look). We hid eighty of them along our 3 study roads, and would be hiding many more this year.

Our treasure hunt went fairly successful, despite the theft of some sensors by gruesome rodents. We saw the traces of their little mean teeth all over the place, but the sensors were nowhere to be found. Maybe the sensors now serve as a lemmings’ equivalent to a wedding ring?

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Luckily the rodent’s impact was relatively limited and they did not manage to gnaw on the good atmosphere during our nice trip through the mountains. We still had a major data harvest – the dream of every PhD-student – and I saw the data’s potential grow with every logger that re-appeared from the soil.

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Drosera flowers in a marsh

Working with such an amazing view on mountains and fjords, it never gets boring. Especially the Norwegian rocks were and will always be breath-taking, more about them here.

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Norwegian moss looks fancy

We used this Norwegian opportunity to gather a set of samples for a colleague. She studies diatoms, unicellar algae, and aims to map their distribution in the world. With the help of just some tiny bags of moss, she would be able to find out if her focal species lived in our study system. This information could turn out really interesting, because it would enable us to link their distribution patterns to all other data from these intensively studied mountain roads.

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Sphagnum, hopefully with diatoms

After three days of jumping over and on rocks and tree stumps, our trip to Norway turned out a big success, and the mainly nice weather made it even better. Now we will have to wait another year and hope the hunt for sensors turns out to be even more succesful then. If only lemmings would stop craving for wealth and status…

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Horsetail, a typical Norwegian understory species

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4 Responses to Above the polar circle – Norway

  1. Pingback: Boven de poolcirkel – Noorwegen › On Top of the World

  2. Pingback: Boven de poolcirkel – een rematch, graag! › On Top of the World

  3. Pingback: Above the polar circle – rematch, please | On top of the world

  4. Pingback: News from the west | On top of the world

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