In these closing posts of 2016, I want to give you a quick (and slightly biased) overview of everything what happened this year, based on the ten most appreciated posts on this blog for this year. This is part two.
While the first half of 2016 had had a big focus on fieldwork, learning skills and optimising plans, the second half was mostly dedicated to the wrapping up of stories. Publishing. Outreach. Telling a story. We are learning important things about how our world functions in this project, and we want these things to be known.
Here are my 5 highlights for the second half of the year:
The little hut in the forest: This summer, as every summer since 2012, we went to the high north to gather more data. Our exotic destination: Lapland, the subarctic part of Scandinavia, where summers are short, yet with plenty of sunshine. Thanks to great collaborations and a good research design, less than three weeks of adventure every year results in enough data to keep us busy. A blessing!
Closing chapters: When you finally read the output of your work in the newspapers, it feels like you are closing a chapter. Discovering something, and getting the opportunity to tell the world about it, that is what science is all about! Telling stories; stories built on facts, yet exciting enough to enchant the reader.
The modern botanist: it was 2016, so even ecologists need to keep up with the times. The digital age is undeniably upon us, and we should take advantage of it! 2016 thus brought the increased implementation of modern technology in our fieldwork: tablets for data input in the field, digital pictures for plot recognition, a picture-recognition app to aid in plant identification and an app with which anybody (yes anybody!) can help us collecting data. Go digital, or go home!
How hikers can help science: For that specific citizen science project, we make use of the app iNaturalist – or your gps – to record a selection of plant species every time you see them along a mountain trail anywhere in the world. This surprisingly easy design will help us getting global information on how humans move species along mountain trails, without the need for us to travel everywhere ourselves. You are warmly welcomed to help us next time you are in the mountains!
Where we disturb nature, the invaders quickly follow: How better to finish this series on the highlights of 2016 than with our last paper: an intercontinental experimental collaboration between Europe and South-America, that recently got published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA. An experiment that answered many of the questions we had about plant invasion in the mountains, yet created enough new ones to keep us busy in the next year. So now on to the next one!
Hoping to see you all here again in 2017, with more exciting science. As for now, thanks for reading.