Fieldwork for plant ecologists in Norway normally begins in June, and the hard work we put into our site maintenance and data collection pays off when we are able to share our findings with vegetation scientists from around the world. From the 20th to the 24th of June 2017, a conference was held on the beautiful island of Sicily, and for those who could take time out of their busy field schedules this was a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues and present, discuss and disseminate our work.
This conference was organised by the IAVS, an international association for plant and vegetation scientists from around the world. This was the 60th annual meeting that the IAVS has organised and its theme this year was extremely relevant to the research we conduct in Bergen: “Vegetation patterns in natural and cultural landscapes”. The programme covered topics from invasive species and conservation planning, to diversity patterns in grasslands, and varied from strictly theoretical to more applied approaches. And what a location! Palermo is beautifully situated on the north coast of Sicilly, and the shorefront was meters from the entrance of the hotel. The posters were presented in the botanical garden in the open air, surrounded by citrus trees and cacti. This is the first outdoor poster session I’ve attended – if only Bergen had such predictably good weather!
There was a lot of good work presented, much of it relevant to our own experiments. It was highlighted several times how important land-use change is in addition to climate change, and that the scale and method used in experiments should influence the interpretation of findings from ecological studies in grasslands.
Our own study sites in Norway are part of a cultural landscape, owned and managed by landowners and farmers. It is always exciting to present our findings on an international platform, which is only possible through these collaborations.
The presentations and posters were complemented by a mid-symposium excursion, giving all participants a day to digest the overwhelming amount of information we’d heard, and a chance to network in a relaxed setting and see a bit of the island. Eight excursions took us in groups to various parts of Sicilly to look at the flora and cultural landscape.