Hooray! I got permission to start a new experiment this summer! This time no exotic location, however. I will stay with both feet on the university grounds, where I got access to almost 100 square meter of boring grassland on the experimental site of our research group.
This grassland will serve me well in solving some of the remaining mysteries about disturbance, microclimate and their combined effect on plants. Because it is all about the smallest scale, I do not need much more space than those few meters of grass.
I will basically walk around like a big Godzilla in my plot to create gaps. Large gaps, small gaps and all kinds of gaps in between, all free of vegetation and freely available for gap invaders. These gap invaders will get a little bit of help from me, as I will sow seeds in all the gaps. When the plants are growing, I will closely monitor the conditions within the gaps, especially temperature and humidity. The important part is that I will look on a much smaller scale, not just at gaps as a whole, but at the variation on different locations within the gaps. This will learn us what those seedlings are réally feeling, and that is what we really need to understand them! The picture shows the kind of gaps we are talking about, in this case naturally made by a mole.
With this fieldwork comes a nice chance to leave the office once in a while and enjoy spring outside. It does not matter it is only 100 meters from my office, because nature can also be found just around the corner. I already discovered a busy bee hotel at the entrance of the field site and birds were singing everywhere while spring was getting on full speed. Working could be worse…