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