Things have been busy over the last few months, with field work for all four work packages carried out across three countries. Our main priorities for 2017 were to complete the genetic sampling and begin the plant species inventories of focal grasslands. In addition, we have also been investigating pollinator networks and preparing for some of next years plant surveys too.
Over the course of the summer, genetic material was collected at over 2000 points within study landscapes. Many of these were located within focal semi-natural grasslands, but samples were also taken from road verges, hedgerows and other green infrastructure elements in the surrounding areas. This plant material, collected from our two study species, Galium verum and Campanula rotundifolia, will now be processed in the lab over the coming weeks. We hope to use the resulting information on the way that genetic diversity and individual relatedness change as you move further from semi-natural grasslands to investigate the way green infrastructure and functional connectivity help plant species to disperse.
Full plant species inventories were carried out across a large proportion of our focal semi-natural grasslands, with a small number remaining to be completed next summer. This will provide detailed information on the plant species composition and richness within grasslands, in landscapes that are supported by different levels of green infrastructure. We also performed a successful short pilot of the inventories of green infrastructure which will be a major part of work in 2018. The results of this test run will be extremely valuable in designing next year's plan of action.
Alongside this, a Postdoc from our partner institute in Spain was hard at work in the Swedish grasslands, gathering data on plant-pollinator interactions. Luckily the weather mostly stayed dry and calm, allowing plenty of opportunities to observe pollinating insects within our study sites. This is just the first part of this fieldwork, which will also continue next year in other countries. The focus for the coming winter will now shift to beginning to analyse the data we have collected so far, and to working with historical maps and aerial photographs to determine the history of grassland habitats in these regions.