The 3D Lab closes 2020

Our goal here in The 3D Lab is to use our skills to help fight the biodiversity crisis. Important. Urgent. Complex. Never finished.

Of course, this is a battle we won’t win overnight, nor will we manage on our own. But I hope we did add some stones to the mountain over the last months. In the last post of the year, we traditionally look back using some of our most-read stories, to evaluate what goals we achieved.

So here comes: The 3D Labs’ 2020 in our 10 best stories!

Figure 18b
Call for remote research sites
  1. We launched a call for the whole world to help out with the SoilTemp-database. Important, as we believe that biodiversity can’t be saved without good climate data, and coverage is poorest in many of the most biodiverse regions. The call has been widely successful, with sensors now measuring all across the world, from the depths of the jungle in Congo to remote Canadian islands.
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Microclimate ecology and biogeography – meeting in Sweden

2. We joined an enthusiastic panel of microclimate experts in a mansion in Sweden to discuss the most important questions to tackle while moving forward. A reflection exercise that allows us to first study what’s most important. Hopeful observation: microclimate ecology is ready to gear up for the future!

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Collaborative ecology at the Oikos-conference in Reykjavik, Iceland

3. We discussed how we as ecologists can take up our task to preserve our biodiversity in a rapidly changing world, and how we should do so before things get too far out of hand. The ecological conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, could serve as an important and hopeful example.

4. We used our expertise against the global pandemic that has been raging throughout 2020. More importantly, we argued that we as ecologists should NOT use our expertise here. A humble lesson on how science keeps learning and still has so much to learn, and how tricky that is if scientific conclusions need to guide global decision-making.

Graphical abstract
Graphic summary of our first SoilTemp paper

5. We published our first paper on the SoilTemp-database, arguably our ‘biggest gun’ in the fight against the biodiversity crisis at the moment. Very short summary: do you have microclimate measurements? Get in touch!

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Vegetation monitoring on a volcano in the Andes

6. I published a commentary piece on how I see global change ecology move forward, and which data we need to achieve what we want to. Dubbed ‘the holy trinity’, these three should remain our targets on the horizon: long-term monitoring, microclimate measurements, and experimental tests of how organisms deal with the climate.

7. We published another paper – in Science this time – in which we warn that we are far from there with the microclimatic part of the above statement: we don’t know what will happen with that microclimate towards the future, as long as our climate predictions do not take into account local interactions with land use.

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Are these landscapes nature to you, or not?

8. Next up was our #NatureOrNot survey, launched in July. What we wanted? Opinions about nature! How do you see nature, and how does that affect the way we should be conserving the valuable bits of green we have left?

9. A first sneak peek into the data from 8. shows us that Belgians see nature in their municipality deteriorating, with 75% of respondents indicating a decline over their lifetime. No surprises there, but we will be digging deeper in the next year to find out the whole story!

RangeX-research in the Swiss Alps, photo by Loïc Liberati

10. We end this overview with good news for the future: 2021 will in many aspects be a LOT bigger than 2020 was. Two of the big guns we’ll be loading? ‘We are very pleased to announce that next year, with MIREN, we will be heavily involved in two large international projects that have been recommended for funding through BiodivERsA.’

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