On the hill overlooking the beautiful village of Vianden stands a black locust, Robinia pseudoacacia, a North-American tree introduced all over the world for gardening purposes.
With its nice feathered leaves obscuring the view from the viewpoint, it made a very good case for the conference that took place in the same little village: Neobiota, the science of newly introduced species (see more here).
It was good to be part of this conference. Learning about the ideas and projects of your colleagues ensures you keep a broad mind about your own work.
Learning what happens with other species, in other ecosystems and on other spatial and temporal scales shows what is similar, but also very importantly what is different. Which processes work for invasion on a global scale, and where the local story is at play.
It helps you to break down the walls around your own little project, and explore what can work on a larger scale, and what not.
It shows you the view from across the valley, from people with a different understanding of the same story. Sometimes even different truths of the same scientific processes, and yes, even in science that is possible.
And most of all, it creates the feeling that everybody is adding their little brick to a growing construction, a growing understanding of what actually happens in the world of natural invasions in particular, and our whole world in general.
I took all that information home with me, and hopefully I came out a better scientist. Let’s now try to integrate it in all the papers I am hoping to write this winter!