Alicia Montesinos Navarro, post-doctoral researcher from CSIC kindly shares with us her experiences from her secondment hosted by Universidad de Concepción – Chile:
During the course of the expedition we had the opportunity to visit the study sites in which the host group was developing their research, and participated in some ongoing experiments that were taking place, exchanging ideas and providing the arena for future collaborations.
The group participated in research communication activities taking advantage of the Chilenean Ecological meeting taking place in Valdivia. A seminar and meetings with researchers interested in common topics was organized by Lohen Cavieres at the University of Concepción (host institution). In particular, I gave a seminar entitled “the effect of mycorrhizal symbiosis on plant facilitation” on the 10th of December, which allowed the interaction with other researchers in the host institution with whom potentially future collaborations might emerge.
Finally, we explored a valley in the Andes, close to Santiago where gypsum exploitation takes place and thus could be a good candidate area to find gypsum soils in non-perturbed areas close by.
Here we looked for non-perturbed areas close by where future filed studies could be developed, and identify the main plant species with the host group botanist.
We quantified functional traits of plant species in different semi-arid environments and participated in field experiments of neighbour’s removal to assess the effect of plant-plant interaction structuring plant community assemblages.
The expedition was an excellent opportunity to learn about the different techniques and eco-physiological and functional perspectives that the host group works on. It has enriched my view about other mechanisms that can influence plant-plant interactions and structure plant communities. Although this experience is studied in semi-arid environments in the Andes, it might be interesting to approach it to other semi-arid systems such as those where gypsum soils develop. It is likely that this research interaction will open future avenues for international collaborations with the host group, contributing to my scientific career.
Alicia Montesinos Navarro, post-doctoral researcher from CSIC