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Figure 1: Jörg making our woods colourful (again)

Figure 2: The result with a standard pole in the background. Note that the third line indicates the interior edge of the study plot

Colouring the woods

Recognizing our study plots in the forest can take some time. We have marked all four corners of the plots and the points in between them, but there is still lots of room for errors: the GPS is not always that precise, sometimes undergrowth is too dense and our wooden poles disappear in the vegetation despite their bright pink colour on the top. However, more obvious markings have several advantages. First, people new to our study plots find them faster. Second, the foresters and their contracted personnel can more clearly identify the borders of our study area. This is important because foresters help our project by not logging any trees inside the plots, but this can be difficult for them as they are not as familiar with the precise plot borders. Let me briefly explain why not logging inside our study plots helps us. We cannot collect all of our data at the same time; instead, we take repeated measurements over several years. If the shape and structure of our plot changes, then our data from year to year is no longer comparable. Therefore, markings that literally “jump out at you” are very helpful.

Our irreplaceable field assistant Jörg conducted some research, consulted the experts and together we developed a plan for how to mark the border trees so that the markings are highly visible and last for the life time of our project. The envisioned end is summer 2025. The foresters agreed with our choice and so for some time now Jörg has been painting the woods with a double dashed line in a wonderful shade of blue. See his craftsmanship below!

Applying the paint with a brush alone is not sufficient; it will not last long enough. The bark has to be cleaned beforehand… So if you encounter a tall guy sprinkled in dirt and blue paint, with a steel brush in hand, up on a ladder attacking trees deep in the woods, do not be surprised: he has a an important job to do, lots of trees to clean and paint.

These nicely visible markings in the forest will hopefully allow future students and research assistants to collect more awesome data from our study plots. By the way, we are currently preparing the job descriptions for the new group of PhD students. So in case you are interested in joining the team as one of twelve new PhD students, keep checking our webpage. We will announce the positions in December 2018 and the positions will all start in July 2019. We are very much looking forward to heaps of applications from a large diversity of backgrounds! Exciting times in ConFoBi with a second group of highly skilled and motivated new PhD students are coming soon!

 by Johannes Penner (Coordination)