9 February, 2018

STARS on the move again

Cohort 2 have recently returned from a very successful fieldtrip to Tenerife, following in the footsteps of their colleagues in Cohort 1 and in search of those teabags so carefully buried there for them. The trip was led by Davey Jones, Dave Chadwick, Andy Tye and Emma Sayer, with a guest appearance by Phil Haygarth. Chris McCloskey has kindly provided the following report.

Building on fieldwork last year in which cohort 2 got to grips with a catena sequence of temperate soils from mountain to coast in North Wales, the trip provided an exciting opportunity to step beyond the relatively young soils and temperate climes of the UK. Alongside stunning volcanic geology STARS students explored great soil orders very different from those found in Britain, with soils varying in age from a mere few thousand into the millions of years. This provided a great opportunity to investigate processes of soil formation across a variety of climatic zones.

Sampling sites presented a tremendous variety of ecosystems progressing from the arid to the fertile, ranging from a young entisol developing in the desert ecosystem of a recent lava field near sea level, through dry montane pine forest and the subalpine ecosystem of the Tenerife Caldera, to fertile ultisols and, ultimately, to an ancient andisol in humid laurel forest and a highly eroded oxisol on La Gomera, both of which have been developing for around four million years. Throughout, STARS students conducted a range of chemical, physical, and ecological tests which will form part of a three-year dataset, along with measurements from the other two STARS cohorts. The week was a fantastic experience and both helped demonstrate the factors shaping soil development and provided invaluable experience of soils in a context quite unlike that back home.

In January 2017 STARS cohort 1 buried teabags at various locations on Tenerife and La Gomera. Cohort 2 tracked these down and took them back for analysis as part of the Teabag Index project to help provide data on how climate affects decomposition.

To see many more photos from the trip and other STARS events follow @STARScdt on twitter, or search for #StarsTNR and #starsoil.