Regine Charlotte Gulbrandsen

Hi! I am Regine, 27 years and taking a bachelor’s in biology at The University of Bergen. I’m in my fifth semester and have been living in Bergen the last couple of years with my fiancée. Bergen is a beautiful city with both the sea and mountains close by. This gives me the opportunity to go hiking and enjoy the outdoors. My biggest interests in biology is the functions of ecology and botany. Furthermore, I want to take a master in ecology, and hopefully work with mapping of vegetation.

In this internship I have been working in a project called THREE- D. This project has many sub – projects, aiming to address how grazing interact with climate warming/nitrogen deposition and how this is affecting the ecosystem functioning in alpine areas.

My main tasks at the laboratory was sorting functional groups of plant species, weighing biomass and filtering soil samples. I also attended two fieldtrips where I assisted a PhD-student, Joseph Gaudard. We measured carbon fluxes, more specifically; The Net Ecosystem functions Production (NEP), which is the difference between gross primary production and the total ecosystem respiration. NEP includes fluxes from vegetation but also mineral soil. This makes it is possible to investigate how much organic carbon that is available in the ecosystem. Since the measurements took place in the alpine areas, we went on two fieldtrips – à 9 days per trip. We were stationed in a house in Myrkdalen, located in the municipality of Voss.

The measurements of carbon fluxes were performed with a custom made chamber made of plexiglas, connected to a device that measures the carbon concentration inside the chamber. The chamber needed to be aired between measurements, which prevented any accumulation of CO2. The chamber was placed upon the plot before making it airtight, using a chain around the edges. The measurements lasted for at least 2 minutes, before the chamber got aired again. In total we had 3 measurements with a cap that prevented light, and 3 measurements without the cap.
Being 3 people at the sites included a lot of waiting. To be more time efficient I did independent measurements with a GreenSeeker (nDVI) on all the plots at the location. On the last fieldtrip I also collected ripe seeds from different species in the area outside the plots, as the data was to be used in another project.

My tasks in the field was primarily carrying gear for the measurements – which included batteries for powering the equipment, a chain for air tightening the chamber and some food and gear for the team. I also timed the measurements and secured that the chain was making the chamber airtight.

The fieldtrips gave me hands on experience which enhanced my understanding of the theoretical aspect of this project. At the locations it was interesting to see how the plots where arranged due to precipitation, sunlight, elevation and temperature. My inner plant nerd was fascinated by the rich biodiversity, and the flora was always in my pocket. I gained a better understanding of how science fieldwork is performed in terms of organizing to make it run smoothly. In this project we relayed on the weather forecast, an important factor that decided which location we could take measurements on from a day to day basis. The ideal weather was clear blue sky, but the chances for that are small in alpine areas of Norway. Still we had some days with blue skies, sun, and good temperature.

During this internship I have gained new knowledge in terms of executing common methods in the lab, discussing scientific problems within the scientific community, and understanding more about how PhD-students structure and execute their scientific research.

Due to Covid-19 measures were done both in the field and in the laboratory, in terms of separate the teams into minor groups. We also made food separately and limited the grocery shopping to a minimum. All considered, I don’t feel that covid-19 had any impacts on this internship. All in all, a great experience!

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