Not often do we get the chance to visit the sites of our colleagues at the other side of the world. Even though I am working with their data day after day at the office, the beauty of the actual nature behind these numbers in Excel files has always been a mystery.
For those wondering: most of my work is based on a dataset of plant distribution data from along mountain roads all across the world, gathered by the MIREN network (www.mountaininvasions.org). Within our own group, we are taking care of the research site in northern Norway, yet this is only one of a growing number of amazing mountain regions where people are applying the same observational protocol.
Our recent meeting in Montana (more on that here) gave us the chance to get a feel of one of the roads of our network, within the Yellowstone National Park. And what a beauty it was! It spanned several hundreds of elevational meters, all the way to the top of one of the highest peaks in the National Park.
Not only did it offer us great views and fantastic wildlife (see here for another example), the vegetation alongside it also had a special interest to me, as a botanist from Europe: it turned out they have several species in common with our Norwegian flora, as well as several closely related species.
Finding these species back in this totally different environment was very intriguing, and illustrated once again the countless links between mountain vegetation all over the northern hemisphere.