Heather

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The best moment of the season to visit Flanders’ heathlands

Finally got another field day again – they really are scarce and far between nowadays. But what a field day it was: heading back to Flanders’ most beautiful heathland to harvest our temperature loggers we have been hiding there for a year.

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Minuscule logger, 1 cm in diameter, yet I found it back under the tree where I hid it over a year ago!

This little bit of fieldwork – not much more than criss-crossing through forests, heathlands and dunes on a search for tiewraps sticking out of the soil – provides invaluable data for three big projects we are working on.

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Another logger dug up, right at the root where it was supposed to be

First of all, the plots are part of the global Dark Diversity Network, a network with a somber name, yet focussing on an important part of biodiversity: that what is NOT growing there. More here.

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A lonely pine seedling on a sandy dune. What is not growing at a location can give us as much information on biodiversity as what is there.

Secondly, the soil temperature will obviously feed into our growing global microclimate database, providing another 20 droplets in a sea of over twelve thousand. More here!

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Stormy skies with autumn setting in

Finally, the data will become part of our community science project ‘CurieuzeNeuzen’, that will ask people from across Flanders to install microclimate loggers in their gardens. With the data collected in this heathland – together with other forest, agricultural and meadow-sites, we will be able to model the microclimate in all Flanders’ habitat types with an unprecedented resolution. More here.

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How does vegetation and human structure alter the microclimate? With our dense network of microclimate loggers across Flanders, we will be able to answer this question!

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Fabulous colours in this swampy heathland

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