October 1st

Monday, October 1st, will mark an important milestone: that day I will officially start my 3 years as a postdoc funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO).

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Plants dealing with extreme environments (in this case a Primula in the Swiss Alps) stay an important topic of my postdoc.

I have spend the last few months preparing intensively for this day, and I feel I am more than ready to start turning words into deeds. I will use the trust put into me by the FWO and my host institution – the University of Antwerp – to improve our understanding of that very big question in ecology: why species live where they live (and not anywhere else).

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My postdoc will bring me back to the Andes in South America (here: a mountain lake in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina) to study the interaction between different plant species

The focus of these coming 3 years will lie on multiple fronts. First of all, there is the continuation of MIREN, the Mountain Invasion Research Network. We are still expanding the long-term plant species monitoring network in mountains, have a series of critical questions to answer on how interactions between species define their location, and have PhD-student Ronja dedicated to tackle the question how hiking trails in mountains affect plant species distributions.

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In the north of Scandinavia, mountain trails are the most visible disturbance of the landscape. We aim to disentangle their effect on the mountain vegetation.

Secondly, there is the microclimate work. In anticipation of this postdoc, we just launched SoilTemp, our ambitious attempt to build a global database of soil temperature data and apply it to improve our understanding of species distributions and traits.

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We will be measuring a lot of stress on plants in a wide range of extreme conditions. Here: our Urban Heat Island-project in Flanders.

There is more, however. There is our work on Urban Heat Islands and how they affect the invasion of non-native species, the responsibility of Charly, a PhD-student in the University of Gembloux in Wallonia. And there is our dive under ground, to understand the mysteries of soil microbial communities, or the one into the wonderful realm of plant functional traits, or even those ideas on how remote sensing (satellites, or even 3D laser-scanning) can improve our understanding of where species live.

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Alpenrose (Rhododendron ferrugineum), another plant I’d hope to meet again within this postdoc project. 

So buckle up, as the ride is about to get a lot wilder again!

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1 Response to October 1st

  1. Mz&Cho says:

    Congratulations; exciting times ahead and all the best!

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