Nothing says pink like the Flemish heathlands at the end of summer. I was lucky enough to spend one of the last hot summer days on the vast pink plains of the ‘Kalmthoutse Heide’, where we have our sites for the global Dark Diversity Network.
Fieldwork was of the type that I love the most: randomly selecting a plot, roaming throug it, and writing down the plant species that grow there.
We have a good idea now of the species that occupy this harsh environment; and there is not that many. The heather species, of course, the stars of the show, and a handful of grass species. Birches and pines, the occassional fern and blackberry. Only the toughest ones of the bunch, that can deal with the poor soil conditions in the sandy soils of the Campina region.
For now, this fieldwork chapter is closed again. We boxed our sandy soil samples and send them on their way to Estonia and Spain for analysis. Now it’s just typing out species list and submit them to the growing global network to explore what’s up with this Dark Diversity.
Good thing is: we’ll have to go back to the field soon, hopefully on a crispy cold winter day, to replace our temperature loggers. That’s our luck, as it is those occasional days in the field that do keep an ecologist sane.