If you like what I am doing, you can join! With our network, we launched a project in which you can all participate. Mountain ecologists, land managers, botanists, teachers and students, or mountain enthusiasts in general: you can all help ecologists track plants along mountain trails while you are out hiking.
The effects of climate change are becoming rapidly obvious all over the world. We hear about shrinking glaciers, extreme droughts, and species moving their ranges upwards in the mountains to track the warming climate.
The latter provides an easy and fascinating way to follow the effects of climate change from the first row. By keeping track of the movements of species in real time all over the world, we can learn a lot about climate change and the wonderful adaptability of species.
We propose a set of plant species that is perfectly suited to serve as a global indicator for these effects: all European ruderal plant species that are currently found across the whole world and that turn out to be fascinatingly adaptive.
In the wake of climate change, they have been seen to move towards higher elevations over the years in mountains in Europe. The same European species have also been introduced on many other continents. There, their invasion into new areas might be even faster.
Interestingly, these species show a close connection with us, humans. They cling to cars or hiking shoes and thus often follow roads and trails to find their way up into the mountains.
We are joining forces with people all over the world to gather critical information on the movements of these plant species and thus unravel the mysteries of plant invasion and climate change. And you can help us!
The Mountain Invasion Research Network (MIREN, www.mountaininvasions.org) has developed a protocol that can be used by mountain scientists, land managers, botanists, teachers/students and any outdoor enthusiast alike, to track the movement of some indicator species wherever we (and they) go in the mountains.
How can you contribute?
What do you need?
- A GPS or smartphone, that’s all.
When can you contribute?
- The project runs from 20/06/2016 till 31/05/2017
Which plant species to look for?
- Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium), narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata), red clover (Trifolium pratense) and white clover (Trifolium repens). You can search for all of them, or select one or two focal species you know you can recognize.
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, thus observations from both Europe and the rest of the world is welcomed.
How to do it?
- When you walk along the trail, we ask you to keep an eye out for these species and save their exact coordinates into your gps (as a waypoint) or smartphone (via the app iNaturalist).
For the step-by-step instructions, we kindly invite you to send an e-mail to email@example.com.