The legendary valley

Låktatjåkka, the legendary valley. Legendary for The 3D Lab, in any case, as it has been the backdrop of a lot of our research, all the way back to my own PhD.

The legendary Låktatjåkka valley, seen from the end of the main valley, with its typical ‘dynamic’ weather. Picture Violetta Chernoray

We used this valley for three of our core experiments on the importance of disturbance for upward expansion of non-native plant species in mountains, two of which have been published in PNAS and Ecography. The valley clearly told us that disturbance was key for said plant invasions in cold environments.

We tracked the vegetation along the main trail through the valley since 2016, the results of which have recently been published as part of the upcoming PhD of lab member Ronja: plant species are moving up and down along these trails and plant species richness is higher along the trail than in the natural vegetation.

Since 2016, we regularly monitor the vegetation all the way from the birch forest at the bottom up to the rocky scree where only the lonely Ranunculus nivalis can survive. Picture Violetta Chernoray

We have been monitoring the microclimate along the elevation gradient closely, and again the valley gave us important information: the distribution of alpine plant species in the region was better explained by the soil temperature measured in-situ than by any existing macroclimate source.

And I could go on and on and on, this valley has been part of so many studies we have done, and of so much we are still learning. There is the master thesis from Lore from last year, which used data from this valley to dive deep into the concept of ‘dark diversity’, the absence of species one would expect to find. There is the work from Dymph who is investigating the link between the ruderal species in this valley and the ruderal species pool brought in already in 1903 when the regions’ railwayline was constructed.

The main river cutting the valley in halve. A particularly snowy winter, and you won’t find your bridge here yet mid-July, forcing you to walk all the way up and cross a quite part of the stream barefoot. Picture Tom Vermeire

So it should thus not be a surprise to her that I am pretty excited to see this years’ team hiking up the valley again, making it to the top for the famous wafflehouse between the rocks and along the road collect data on microclimate, species communities and now even bumblebee distributions, to keep our longterm monitoring intact.

The wafflehouse at the top of the valley. Picture Violetta Chernoray

Yes, we start to know this valley as an old friend, but its ecology still has a lot of secrets to reveal.

Part of this years’ fieldwork team enjoying the magnificence of this place. Picture Violetta Chernoray
In good years, the valley hosts a couple of skuas, magnificent groundbreeding birds that angrily attack anyone who ventures too close. Picture Tom Vermeire
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