Thursday, 7 August 2014

Swedish plants in New Journal of Botany II

Sebastian, equipped to start sampling
 vegetation changes in a rich fen
Image: I. Backéus
The August issue of New Journal of Botany will be mailed out next week but, to sustain you in the meantime, here is another sneak preview of one of the papers you can look forward to. 

Having published Torbjorn Tyler's paper on Swedish Hawkweeds in our April issue, we are delighted to bring you a paper on the decline of Swedish boreal plants by Sebastian Sundberg. This is based on a presentation offered at the BSBI Mapping Conference in 2012 and Sebastian very kindly agreed to write up his presentation and offer it to NJB. 

I asked Sebastian to tell us how he got started in botany and to say something about his research interests. He said "Starting off as a young birder, introduced to ornithology by my elder brother, I soon became fascinated by wetlands as local hotspots for various exotic life forms. 


In 2009, checking timing of Sphagnum spore discharge
 in relation to instant meteorological conditions
Image: A.Rydberg
"Wetlands have then been a common theme of my continuous plant ecological research, either on the ecology and restoration of peatlands (focusing on rich fens) or on plant dispersal using mainly peat mosses (Sphagnum spp.) as a model system. Especially that there was such a gap in our understanding of dispersal in relation to the observed patterns of distribution of wetland species attracted my curiosity during the 1990s – virtually every bog contains the same array of species despite that they are indeed patchily distributed in the landscape. 

"This has led me into studying dispersal mechanisms at the very small scale in individual species, via patterns and processes at the landscape scale, to models at the regional level to sum up and simplify the complex patterns.

Sampling vertical distribution of Sphagnum spores
 at different heights over a bog in 2010,
with the aid of a 4.5 m long, helium-filled blimp
Image: H.Sundberg
"As many wetlands have undergone dramatic changes during the past century, I also became generally interested in recent human induced changes in the landscape and how these in turn have affected species presence, distribution and turnover. I could not resist participating when the opportunity arose to analyse the changes in the flora of Uppland, with two comparable surveys at hand, where the first covers mainly the first part of the 1900s. I participated actively in the second survey, which also acted as an excellent, practical education for my learning of identity, requirements and abundance of vascular plant species. 

"The paper appearing in the coming issue of NJB is actually more or less a “custom order” from Chris Preston, who invited me to come and speak about the decline of boreal plants in Sweden, at the BSBI/RBGE conference: ‘A great leap forward – biological recording since the 1962 Atlas of the British flora’ in Edinburgh in September 2012. 

"The decline of boreal plants was one of the more evident patterns that we observed when analysing the floristic changes in the province of Uppland, while boreal plants appear to do particularly badly in Britain. This “order” made me dig deeper into the decline of boreal plants in southern Sweden, the result of which you can read about now!

In 2013, with the obligatory and necessary mosquito 
net, along the Arctic Circle in the boreal forest in
 northernmost Sweden, during survey of ‘white spots’
 for the developing Swedish atlas of vascular plants
Image: L. Fröberg
"All this quite diverse array of topics that I have been involved in, during 20 years of research and teaching at Uppsala University, suits me rather well at my present position, acquired three years ago, as a senior advisor on vascular plants at the Swedish Species Information Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. There I work with the national Red List, EU-reporting according to Article 17 about the status of species and habitats, and various other issues regarding information about species and nature conservation, with a focus on vascular plants".

Many thanks to Sebastian for telling us more about his work, and I hope you will enjoy reading the paper next week and finding out more about boreal plants in Sweden.