Monday, 14 May 2012

Field Trip on La Soufrière volcano: 1-9 June 2012

MOVECLIM expedition in Guadeloupe from June 2nd to 9th 2012

The team included six people: Claudine Ah Peng and Olivier Flores (University of La Réunion), team leaders, Terry Hedderson (University of Cape Town), Juergen Kluge (University of Marburg), Jean-François Bernard and Elisabeth Lavocat Bernard (scientific council of the National Botanical Conservatory of Guadeloupe) as local partners.
The expedition consisted in establishing permanents plots for long term monitoring and characterizing bryophytes and ferns diversity along an altitudinal gradient on the Eastern slope of the volcano La Soufrière (1470 m) with elevational steps of 200 m, the lower step at 300 m and the higher at 1450 m.
From 450 m until 1450 m the plots were located in the National Park of Guadeloupe which issued our collecting permit.

Pix:  Transect study sites of La Soufrière volcano on Basse Terre (map O. Flores)

Elisabeth and Jean-François did a preliminary investigation for finding the plots in April and May, except for the plot 1050 m, which was a clusietum area (Clusia sp.) and needed to be discussed with collaborators to determine the site. Temperature and relative humidity loggers were set up on each studied plot and started at a recording time of every hour.
The climatic data will be, then recorded every six months by the National Park agents.

Friday June 1st
At the airport welcoming of the participants by Lisa, fetching of the rental car and drive to the rented house in Capesterre Belle Eau (Basse Terre).

Saturday June 2nd:
Plots at 650 m in the second Carbet Fall area, in a native rainforest.
Pix 1: Carbet Fall 

Pix 2: 650 m plot
Pix 3: Vegetation type at 650 m

Sunday June 3rd:
Plots at 850 m just below the first Carbet Fall, cloud forest with smaller trees with many epiphytes (bryophytes, ferns, bromeliaceae, orchids…) hanging from the branches.

Pix 4: Vegetation type at 850 m plots

Pix 5: Epiphytic Lepidozia reptens

Pix 6: Epiphylls, Lejeuneaceae ssp.

Monday June 4th:
Plots at 1450 m near the summit of La Soufrière and plots at 1250 m at the Pass of L’Échelle, just below the volcano with low-shrub vegetation.
Pix 7: Sphagnum sp.

Pix 8: Populations of Sphagnum sp on La Soufrière massif.
Pix 9: Pitcairnia sp.
Pix 10: Rhacocarpus purpurescens

Tuesday June 5th:
Plots at 1050 m in the clusietum. Moving around in this plot was difficult  due to dense low shrub vegetation, not easily penetrable.

Pix 11: In the Clusia sp. bush

Wednesday June 6th
Resting and curating specimens

Thursday June 7th
Plots at 450 m, just above third Carbet Fall, rainforest. At this elevational level, the National Park partners were informed to the usage of the loggers as it was planned in the Moveclim project.
In the evening, a meeting was held with the National Park partners where we discussed the project. Work of each partner was clarified as well as the most appropriate mode of involvement of National Park of Guadeloupe in this project.
Pix 12: Olivier & Alain, using the laser distance meter to measure the tree height

Pix 13: Vegetation type at 450 m

Pix 14: Setting up the plot of 10 X10 m

Friday 8th
Plots at 300 m, relatively slightly modified rain forest, on rocky soil. This plot is not located in the National Park area.
Pix 15: Vegetation type at 300 m

Saturday 9th
Departure to Paris and preparation of the kick off meeting.

Dr Alain Rousteau (University of Antilles Guyane) and Marion his PhD student were with us the last two days for collecting data about the vegetation structure of the plots (canopy height, tree species identification and diameter). Hervé Magnin (National Park of Guadeloupe) and his collaborator joined on a midday trip.

A very nice weather, a good understanding and cooperation between the partners with a very nice and friendly atmosphere made this mission very pleasant and successful as all sampling was efficiently done!

Authors: Elisabeth Lavocat Bernard and Jean-François Bernard

Photographs: C. Ah-Peng & E. Lavocat-Bernard

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