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Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group

PFT4

Plant Functional Traits Course 4

The 4th TraitTrain International Plant Functional Traits Course will be held at the University Centre in Svalbard, Norway, 16-27 July

groupwork_svalbard_rgya.jpg

Students surveying the grassy vegetation on the coast of Svalbard with a ship on the sea in the background
Photo:
Ranghild Gya

The TraitTrain International Plant Functional Traits Courses offer a hands-on experience with collecting and exploring plant functional traits data in a real-life field research project setting, along with an introduction to the use of plant trait data in climate-change research and ecosystem ecology.

Trait-based ecology incorporates important new methods and approaches that enable a more powerful approach to predict how climate and biotic interactions shape plant community dynamics and ecosystem functioning. This course will provide students with essential background information and the skills needed for doing research within trait-based ecology.

TraitTrain4 will address several core scientific questions with an emphasis on key skills: (i) collecting original data in the field, (ii) developing data management skills; (iii) developing computational and statistical skills; and (iv) generating data summaries and basic hypothesis tests. Students will be given hands-on instruction in the theory and methods of ecophysiology, community ecology, population biology, and computational biology.

The TraitTrain4 course will be held at Longyearbyen on Svalbard, Norway (in the High Arctic, at 78°N), 16-27 July 2018. The fieldwork will be carried out at different locations in and around Adventsdalen, both along local bioclimatic gradients such as elevation (0–300m a.s.l.) and in different pre-existing field experiment locations related to climate, grazing pressure, and nutrient availability in high-arctic ecosystems. Participants will be introduced to the environmental, ecological, and taxonomic diversity of the region, and will be involved in one of the following projects:

  1. Assessing the role of climate and biotic factors in determining plant community leaf trait composition
  2. Assessing how temperature variation and leaf functional traits influence leaf ecophysiology
  3. Using a trait-based approach to assess how local plant communities and populations respond to experimental climate and grazing treatments
  4. Measuring how functional trait composition influences ecosystem functioning by measuring CO2-flux within and across plant communities
  5. Assessing canopy traits through reflectance spectra: from leaf to landscape-scale using drone technologies.

The course is aimed at graduate students – both MSc and PhD – and will give a broad introduction and hands-on experience with trait-based ecology. You will work with international instructors, in teams, and collect data in the field to address a specific research question. You will gain practical experience in measuring plant functional traits and learn standard protocols and several methods. You will become familiar with taking measurements using ecophsyiological equipment including the LiCor 6400 and LiCor 7500. You will learn about the structure and analysis of trait data, be introduced to best practice data management and reproducible coding, as well as having the opportunity to analyse and interpret data yourself.

The course fee (to be confirmed but around 6000 kr) covers costs for accommodation, food and transport in Svalbard. For internal students at the University of Bergen, the University of Arizona, and UNIS, funding is available to help offset cost of travel to Svalbard. Some external participants may also be offered funding to support their travel to Svalbard.

To apply, send a short personal statement as to why the course fits into your goals and aspirations, as well as your CV to Vigdis.Vandvik@uib.no or benquist@email.arizona.edu by the 1st of April 2018 and rank the four projects above in the order of your interest.

The course is organised by Professors V. Vandvik from the University of Bergen in Norway and B. Enquist from the University of Arizona in the USA in collaboration with Inga Svala Jónsdóttir and Pernille B. Eidessen at UNIS.