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Department of Biological Sciences (BIO)

Counting out 56 500 seeds!

PhD students Joachim Spindelböck and Eric Meineri are involved in a project that is investigating how Norwegian vegetation is responding to climate change. The project involves counting out the seeds of six different reference species into 113 packages of 300 or 500 each,, seeding them in the field in locations different in climate from their origin and then observing how their germination and sprouting is affected by a warmer climate, a wetter or both!

The SEEDCLIM project began last year with selecting 12 sites with different climates constituting three levels in temperature and four in precipitation, affectionately called "the grid". This years work is aiming at transplanting both vegetation and seeds to warmer, wetter and both - which included collecting the seeds at the end of the growing season, drying and sorting them and then counting them into bags and packages for the sowing this fall.

Spindelbôck explains that for the smaller seeded species there must be exactly 50 per bag - not 49 or 51!! For the species with larger seeds they use only 30 of each.

There are three pairs of reference species, a mountain and lowland variety of each of: veronica, violet and sedge. The students will return again in June to count seedlings.

In addition they are studying how climate change induced changes in the environment will affect seed longevity by burying samples of the seeds at each test site and digging them up again after a period of one or three years and checking them for viability.

It is a labour intensive study that will give valuable results about the impact of climate change on native vegetation.