Visit to Ghent University Forest & Nature Lab
By Jordan Chetcuti on Friday, February 24th, 2017
On the 22nd of February James Bullock from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and I went through to Ghent University to their Forest & Nature Lab and had a meeting either side of a presentation, given by James, meeting with Kris Verheyen, Pieter De Frenne and Thomas Vanneste.
Thomas is a new PhD student working with Kris and Pieter looking at traits of vascular plants affecting their dispersal ability. He will be looking at corridors represented by hedgerows and road verges, and look at traits across latitudes with sites across mainland Europe . He will also be conducting warming experiments using open top chambers in habitat patches and connecting corridors. He will then attempt to model the rate of spread of vascular plants. It is with this modelling that we may be of help, with Thomas hopefully visiting CEH to work with James on determining the best parameters for use in modelling and potentially with me on modelling.
I then briefly presented the work I am proposing to do and showed the development of IBM models in Netlogo that I have been working on. I showed the initial two patch and corridor simulation I created and then the more complex multipatch, niche, matrix model I am now developing. We also talked a little about the field data I am hoping to collect, and they volunteered that they have beetle pitfall data across their sites (only a little less data than for plants) that they were sure their team would be happy for us to use.
We then got a brief tour of some of the nearby field experiments, which consisted of open top chambers some of which had heatless light sources to simulate a reduction in tree canopy cover.
Later we then went out for dinner and we were joined by Dries Bonte and energetically discussed difficulties in funding, politics, publication and the ecology community.