Keeping you up to date on my research experiences, and my running adventures.
Treborth Botanic Gardens served as an excellent host for the opening ceremonies of the Two Dragons garden project last week (see more info here: http://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/latest/two-dragons-garden-project-18629). After the festivities I gave my first proper tour and laymen's terms explanation of the research being conducted within the Rhizotron. The trees performed brilliantly-granted they just needed to not die before the tour- but still, I am very proud of the little forests. Thanks in part to the unending Welsh rain events the trees have all greened up quite nicely and the sycamores have really leafed out, so the contrast in tree species planted within the experiment were really evident. Here's a Rhizotron selfie for you.
When not out admiring the slow and steady development of the rhizotron trees, I spent the past week finishing up some soil sample analyses and initial biomass measurements on the tree seedlings. I've even made my first rhizotron-related figures (aka graphs) of the size-distribution of the tree seedlings planted within the rhizotron, and the weight-distribution of the seedlings used for biomass measurements. One of the coolest analyses has to be burning the soil samples to get an estimate of carbon in the soil- so in essence I set the soils to a very high temperature- a different form of stress-baking for me, and its much better to be following a recipe in the lab, rather than just throwing together ingredients that sound good. (Note: I do not condone ingestion of lab samples of any sort, I am just drawing parallels to my tendency to bake brownies, cookies, and the like). So the initial soil samples have been sieved, extracted, prepped, and analyzed and now I just need to wait for the trees to grow up a bit and see if anything has changed in the soil. I'm excited to watch the progress of the tree seedlings over the summer months.
Relena is a forest ecologist and researches how trees and soils interact. She also likes to run through areas populated by trees.