Photo impressions of field work on the FRAGILE project

A personal photo report from Maarten Loonen
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On Spitsbergen, we are studying combined effects of goose grazing and global warming on an arctic tundra. The project is called FRAGILE and is financed by the European Community. At the beginning of the season, Maarten Loonen visited the field site and made the following report.

Index to this page: [morning walk] [goslings] [vegetation plots] [measuring bacterial communities] [migration]

Adventdalen, in the middle of the picture you can just see the hut at the FRAGILE site

The morning walk to the site

Every morning at 9 o'clock, there is a meeting at UNIS, discussing the progress of the research. After the meeting, a party departs for the field site. First they drive 10 kilometers into the valley. When the road ends, they continue by foot. Thirty minutes walking.
Part of the FRAGILE team starting their morning walk

Suzanne has just moved the cage Fresh drinking water Grazing at the dry site. Click here for video...
Resting at the wet site


The adult geese have been released already. All plots have been grazed according to plan. We missed the first grazing, because we could not bring our captive geese from the Netherlands. But the second and third grazing went very well.

Now, Suzanne is comparing the growth rate of goslings on the two vegetation types. Above, there are three pictures from two goslings grazing on the dry site. To the left there is a picture from three goslings on the wet vegetation. The goslings increase better in weight on the wet vegetation.

Video: grazing goslings at the dry site


The next six pictures are an example of the various treatments on the wet vegetion. There are 3 levels of grazing and two levels of temperature per block. The pictures are taken on 9 August 2004, after two grazing treatments.
Ungrazed Normal grazing pressure Heavy grazing pressure
Ungrazed, enhanced temperature, after one season of manipulation. Normal grazed, enhanced temperature, after one season of manipulation. Heavily grazed, enhanced temperature, after one season of manipulation. Enhanced temperature
By placing open top chambers (OTC) on the vegetation, the temperature is enhanced a few degrees, simulating global warming.
Ungrazed, ambient temperature, after one season of manipulation. Normal grazed, ambient temperature, after one season of manipulation. Heavily grazed, ambient temperature, after one season of manipulation. Ambient temperature
These plots are exposed to normal weatherconditions

Sampling cores for analysis of bacterial communities

Bacterial communities

Anne Grethe Hestnes, a PhD-student from Troms° has learned about the methane production which has been measured at our site. She wants to sample vegetation and soil to analyse the methane-consuming bacterial community. Already some spin-off from the FRAGILE project into the scientific community.

Bjorn Solheim assists her with taking cores.

The walk from the parked car to the FRAGILE site, seen from the mountain
Suzanne and Dries returning from work

The evening walk home

Most days, we stay out in the field until 19 o'clock. Even in rain or cold windy weather, the work continues.

Using the telescope from a car

Migration preparation

At Isdammen, a lake close to Longyearbyen, I count 700 barnacle geese and 50 pinkfooted geese. The flock is much larger than previous when RenÚ counted 200 geese. Geese which have already regained flight after the moulting period are gathering here.
Geese at Isdammen near Longyearbyen

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