Keeping you up to date on my research experiences, and my running adventures.
This week a group of researchers from the below ground ecosystem group took off for some rehabilitation work, and to collect soil and leaf tissue samples. We began the trip from Vancouver aboard a ferry bound for the Sunshine Coast. From the moment you step foot on the ferry you feel the stresses of work drifting away as you soak up the sunset and take in the puffy clouds lazily bobbing across the skyline. After a short journey up the BC coast we settled in for a weekend of landscape rehabilitation including tree and shrub planting, and invasive species removal. After a weekend of uprooting and removing the Japanese knotweed we continued on a journey towards the Interior of British Columbia. Early on in the trip we passed by Whistler (home of the previous Winter Olympics).
As we traveled further inland I was struck by the enormity of the mountainous terrain, and the vast expanses of coniferous forests. Below are a series of photographs as we traveled inland towards the research forests. You'll notice the dramatic effect of avalanches on mountain forests (for those unfamiliar with what these avalanche tracks might look like- visualize a ski slope, but the whole height of the mountain).
The forest species shift considerably as we travel from coastal forests to the interior forest communities. There are also an abidance of rugged escarpments where hardy trees are clinging to life.
We made our way into some of the drier parts of BC, and the smell of sage filled the air as we ambled on through the mountains.
After the tour of forests within BC we arrived at the experimental forest plots, planted in both pure species and mixed species stands. Below is a photograph from one of the characteristically fragrant yellow cedar plots- notice the distinct lack of understory vegetation. In contrast, the paper birch plots had a very prominent understory vegetation layer. After putting the soil samples on ice we made the long trek back to the university. I will be spending the next few weeks analyzing rates of nutrient cycling among the soils collected under different tree species plots. Off with the field gear and into the lab coats!
Relena is a forest ecologist and researches how trees and soils interact. She also likes to run through areas populated by trees.