Collective science is the best science

When scientists (or people in general) work together, magic happens. I am a dedicated advocate of that policy: if a lot of people all do a little bit of work, the level of interest of the results skyrockets.

I was pointed towards another one of these collaborative approaches: our dear colleagues in Amiens are trying to gather leaves from a few typical forest species from all across Europe (you can find all information on the project on the blog of Jonathan Lenoir, co-supervisor of the project).


Beech forest (the Hallerbos, Belgium)

The goal is to disentangle the historical processes that drive the distribution of two common forest species (Geum urbanum – wood avens, and Oxalis acetosella – wood sorrel). For that to happen, they need a lot of leaves, from everywhere in Europe, from the Mediterranean till northern Scandinavia. And instead of travelling the thousands of kilometers needed to get the data, they call on everybody they know – or don’t know yet – in Europe to help them out.


Oxalis acetosella, or wood sorrel, in the Hallerbos, Belgium

The fieldwork is super easy: if you see the plant whenever hiking in a forest, just collect some leaves from 15 or more individuals, put them each in a separate envelop, and send them by mail to Amiens, where they will be analyzed further. See: easier is impossible. And yet, if enough people participate, we can answer fundamental questions on the distribution of forest species, and how these distributions change over time.

My first population of Geum urbanum is already ready to be mailed!


Envelopes filled with leaves of Geum urbanum, ready to be send to the lab in Amiens!

(Not hiking in the forest, but in the mountains? Don’t forget about our MIREN trail survey, we still welcome all help!)

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