Monday, March 4, 2013


Welcome to the 55th Parallel.  Our ecological research in Canada takes us above and just below the 55th parallel in Alberta, and in the summer, we utilize our 17 hours of sunlight to the fullest. In the winter, when thankfully we aren't busy up there, the sun is above the horizon for not quite 7 hours.  It is a great place to work if you can fend off the black flies and bears -- and there are plenty of both.  The wetlands in which we work are teeming with life of all kinds, and these systems are beautiful.

This blog's inspiration comes from wanting to share some of what we know and some of what we experience while doing research both here at VU and in Canada.  We are exposed to some great people, fascinating terrain, and quality research.  Throughout the next few months, in particular, as we delve into the busy summer field season, we'll share what is happening with us and our group and we welcome feedback and insights.
Our research takes us primarily to Alberta Canada where we focus on disturbances both anthropogenic and natural.  We work in peatlands, which in this part of the world, are dominated by treed bogs and both treed and open fens.  Within these wetland systems, we work to tease apart nutrient cycling under the umbrella of fire, pollution, and climate change scenarios.  We do this because peatlands store vast amounts of carbon and other nutrients, and it is this carbon that could potentially be released back into the atmosphere, given changing conditions, thus further contributing in some way to global climate change.

We hope to share with the world (and friends and family) why these systems are so incredibly important, our love for the ecosystem, and the science that drives it all.  We will have posts from graduate students, undergraduates, professors, technicians, and hopefully some interesting guest writers.

And so, welcome.