Where, oh where does the seedling grow?

We’ve been back for almost two months now, and data entry is underway! For my personal project, I am looking at seedling dynamics at northern treeline. More specifically, I’m looking at what makes a certain spot more favourable for a seedling to grow compared with where seedlings are  not growing. While the team was up north, I set up plots around any seedlings we could find and recorded site characteristics, and then did the same thing for spots nearby that didn’t have seedlings to get direct site comparisons.

Searching for seedlings
Gathering seedling-site data from sampling plot

We also collected cones from mature trees as we traveled to test for any geographical differences in seed viability (i.e. whether or not the seed is capable of germinating). The cones need to be properly prepared before they are ready for planting, but once ready, they will be kept in the university greenhouse to simulate ideal growing conditions — i.e. anything that could grow, should grow under these conditions. This will give me a better understanding of all aspects contributing to the presence of seedlings in northern environments.

Once the data are entered, I can use analytical tools that will determine exactly how different plots with seedlings are from plots without seedlings. The idea is I will come up conclusions about what environmental parameters contribute to seedling growth in northern environments, and what this might mean for Arctic environmental trends in the future.

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