Summary of the 2014 field campaign

The 2014 field campaign took place between June and August 2014. Both French and Romanian teams successfully covered the whole geographical extension that has been planned within the framework of the ODYSSEE project. Hereby we provide  a brief summary of the results.

Distribution of the sampled points

Our aim was to collect data in two types of ecosystems: the “climacic” alpine meadows dominated by Carex curvula and the secondary, intensively managed subalpine grasslands dominated by Nardus stricta. A total of 68 communities have been sampled in grid cells measuring 80 km × 80 km each, defined using the European reference system ETRS 89. Some grid cells were done by sampling more than one locality per community type in order to capture a wider ecological variability. The communities were distributed within the two main mountain ranges as follows:

  • Alps: Carex curvula (21) Nardus stricta (21). Countries: France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy
  • Carpathians and Sudetes Mts.: Carex curvula (6), Nardus stricta (20). Countries: Romania, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland

The mean elevation of the sampling points was 2081 m a.s.l.

  • Alps: Carex curvula (elev. mean: 2423 m), Nardus stricta (elev. mean: 2189 m)
  • Carpathians and Sudetes Mts.: Carex curvula (elev. mean: 2196 m), Nardus stricta (elev. mean: 1576 m)



 Fig. 1 – Geographical distribution of the sampled grids in the 2014 field campaign. Half circles: grid cells comprising both Carex curvula and Nardus stricta sampling points; Full-red circles: cells with Nardus stricta communities only.


Installed climatic loggers

In each plot, 2 soil temperature loggers (Hobo UA-001-64) were installed. Furthermore 2 air temperature and light loggers (Hobo UA-002-64) were placed at grassland canopy level (at about 10 cm from the soil). Where human/animal threats were present, we installed only one or no-logger to avoid their damage or disappearance.

We used woody sticks prepared in advance as a permanent support for the loggers, and we accurately described their position to faster localize the loggers in the 3rd year of the ODYSSEE project (i.e. WGS84 coordinates, photos to portray the permanent landmarks in the field).

Data on richness and abundance of vascular plants at 100-sq m scale

In order to describe patterns of vascular plant diversity across different regions at 100-sq m grain unit, we did an exhaustive vegetation relevé with a visual estimate of the species cover within each plot.

Sampled keystone species (i.e. Carex curvula, Nardus stricta) for genetic variability and functional traits

In order to study the intraspecific genetic variability of the two dominant graminoids (i.e. Carex curvula ssp. curvula and Nardus stricta), we collected a number of 15 individuals from each site and stored some leaves in silicagel.

To assess the functional variability of the two keystone species, we measured the following traits (in situ/back from the field) and recorded the values on previously prepared field sheets:

  • Vegetative height of 15-20 individuals (in situ)
  • Area of leaves taken from 10 individuals (back from the field, using an dedicated leaf area meter or a submilimetric magnifier for graminoid species)
  • Force to tear of leaves of 10 individuals (back from the field, using a manual torturometer)
  • In the laboratory: the leaves used for measuring the area were stored in paper envelopes to ensure drying. Subsequently, they will be weighted in order to calculate SLA (i.e. the ratio of leaf area to dry mass). The leaves will also be used to measure their C/N content.



 Typical distribution of the two studied grasslands: Nardus stricta meadows are secondary and still grazed in the subalpine belts, while Carex curvula meadows are primary, occurring in the alpine areas (view of the Rodnei Mountains in Eastern Carpathians)


Measured functional traits for common (i.e. abundant) species

We sampled  31 common species (i.e. contributing to 80% of the cumulated frequencies in at least one plot), in order to study their functional traits. The traits were the same as those described for the keystone species. The sampled common species in this field campaign were:

  • Alps (22): Primula minima, Oreochloa disticha, Saponaria pumila, Loiseuleuria procumbens, Phyteuma hemisphericum, Leontodon helveticus, Trifolium alpinum, Carex  sempenvirens, Pulsatilla vernalis, Potentilla erecta, Leucantemopsis alpina, Avenula versicolor, Gentiana acaulis, Viola calcarata, Geum montanum, Homogyne alpina, Ranunculus gr. mont., Androsace grp carnea, Luzula lutea, Leontondon helveticus, Hieracium glanduliferum, Senecio incanus.
  • Carpathians and Sudetes Mts. (14): Festuca airoides, Calamagrostis villosa, Campanula alpina, Ligusticum mutellina, Hieracium alpinum (Fig. 2), Pulsatilla alba, Juncus trifidus, Festuca airoides, Homogyne alpina, Potentilla aurea subsp. chrysocraspeda, Vaccinium myrtillus, Hieracium alpinum, Primula minima, Deschampsia flexuosa.


Collected and weighted aboveground biomass

For each plot, we estimated the ‘green’ aboveground biomass within a quadrat of 0.25 sq m (0.5 × 0.5). The measure was replicated 3 times in each site (100-sq m). The C/N concentration measure will be done for the total biomass with a CHONS analyser in the laboratory.


Soil cores for chemical properties and molecular diversity

In each plot of 100-sq m we collected 50 cores of soil, divided in 5 replicates following a specific design. Then, an aliquot of around 15g of soil was taken out from each replicate for DNA extraction. The samples were stored in small autoclave plastic bags and quickly dried using silicagel (Fig. 3).

To characterise soil properties in the lab (i.e. C, N, Soil Organic Matter, pH) , we collected and stored one single aggregated from the 5 soil composites. Soil was sifted in the field with a 2 mm grid riddle.


Extracted soil cores for diversity of collembolas

In order to study patterns of species assemblages and phylogeographical footprints remain of Collembola, we collected 5 soil samples from each plot  (100-sq m) using a calibrated bowl of 500 square centimeters. The collembolas were extracted afterwards using Berlese traps that allowed the soil to slowly dry for 6 to 7 days without any disturbance. 


Photo gallery


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Sampling plots (100-sq m) in Carex curvula communities in the Carpathians: Bucegi (left) and Rodnei Mountains (right)


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Close-up view of the canopy in Carex curvula (left) and Nardus stricta meadows in the Fagaras Mts., Romania (right)


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Installing climate loggers in a Nardus stricta site from Nízke Tatry Mts. (Slovakia)


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Collecting the biomass on 0.25 sq m-square and stored in a plastic bag (left), using an electric grass shear (right). Pictures taken in Bucegi Mts. (Southern Carpathians)


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Common species Hieracium alpinum  (left) and Campanula alpina (right) in the Bucegi Mts. (Southern Carpathians)


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Extraction of soil for DNA analyses with an auger (left), which was sterilized by a blowtorch after each use (right), in the Krkonose Mts. (The Sudetes, Czech Republic)


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Measuring common species height (left) and recording the values on a filed sheet (right) in the Jeseniky Mts. (The Sudetes, Czech Republic)


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Collecting soil in a 500 sq cm-bowl (left) from the Nízke Tatry Mts., and slowly drying the samples in Berlese traps for Collembola extraction in the laboratory of the Botanical Garden in Cluj-Napoca (right)


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Back from the field measurements: SLA using a scanner (left), and force to tear with a torturometer (right) in Slovakia