Before writing and publishing papers and presenting exciting new findings, most ecologists experience one of the best things about doing science: field work! If you are lucky – as I was in this case – doing field work means great weather, an awesome team, a beautiful landscape, hard work, good samples, lots of fun and new friends! However, it can also mean bad weather, no clean clothes, and drastically changing your carefully planned and well-prepared protocol in one sleep-deprived instant to solve unforeseen difficulties.
These pictures illustrate our 6-week field work campaign in the French Alps, where we collected data for the ECOPICS project. In this French-Mexican project, we study how plants, soil biota and abiotic variables vary with altitude. In both France and Mexico, we dug up soil monoliths to extract roots, soil meso- and macrofauna, microbial samples, and collected leaves and fine roots from several plant species to study leaf and root covariation along an altitudinal gradient.
These field campaigns would not have been possible and not nearly as much fun without the help of very dedicated field and technical assistants and several great BSc students, who sacrificed their summer break to help us out. I hope these pictures encourage students to sign up for such scientific summer breaks – they are much appreciated by researchers!
Monique Weemstra, Postdoctoral researcher, CEFE & AMAP, Montpellier, France
View more photo collections in the fieldwork section of the blog.