Punta Arenas, city of whirling winds and icy winters. Gateway to Antarctica, master of the street of Magellan and host town of the penguins. That’s my next destination, a short visit down to the southernmost part of South America, the exact opposite of the situation in northern Scandinavia. Short summers, harsh climate and steep climatic gradients in the mountains result in a slow-growing vegetation, prepared for the worst. Low to the ground, sheltered against the wind, with leaves adapted to hold as much water as possible in the freezing cold.
That climate should be a strong enough defense against invasion by plants from our mild, Western-European climate. Plants with big, unprotected leaves, plants used to plenty of water and nutrients, plants from heaven visiting hell! But the situation in northern Scandinavia shows the problem: the invaders are too flexible, they don’t seem to mind the cold of hell, they don’t seem to die from lack of nutrients.
We need to fly all the way south to check if this holds true everywhere, or only in the special case of the northern Scandes. That’s why we’ll prepare exactly the same experiment to check the behavior of the invaders in the mountains. If they act in a similar way in the north ànd south of this planet, we’ll have strong evidence about what will happen in those vulnerable cold areas in the future.
I’ll keep you updated!