This week, a new exciting research direction opened up: our PhD-student in Gembloux (Wallonia) launched a growth chamber experiment!
For me, this is an absolute first: to experience the ability to entirely control all conditions, without any noisy outside factor obscuring the outcome. In this case, we will use the advantages of the fully controlled environment to test if non-native plant species have locally adapted to growing conditions in the cities.
We harvested seeds from Matricaria discoidea (see earlier) all across Flanders, in cities and rural areas, and now brought them all together in the controlled environment of our growth chamber. In these growth chambers, we manipulate the climate: we are simulating both a typical growing season, and a growing season with conditions as one might experience in the city (where the Urban Heat Island-effect dramatically increases temperatures).
By bringing all of this together in the growth chamber, we can make sure we are actually testing for the effects of the changed temperature regime in the city, excluding all other possible drivers, which will give us a lot more information than we could get in the field.
For now, it is ‘fingers crossed’ that the seeds want to germinate!
All pictures courtesy of Charly Geron