A view from aside
by Lauri Laanisto
Operating on a field rather far from physiology, ecology, ENVIRON conference was a pretty nice discipline shift. Although, unlike in zoology, where ecologists and physiologist have basically no confluence, plant biologists are much more relaxed and cross discipline borders more easily. At least in plant ecology, where we, ecologists, tend to scavenge at all reliable data from other domains.
From the vulturistic perspective, the meeting was really interesting. There seems to be so many principal differences in plant physiologies, some coming from phylogenetic constraints, some having climatical gradients etc, that drive crucial ecological processes. And these resources are mostly untapped. Because in order to put the finger on such data, one needs to measure single individuals for years and years – or, on the other extreme, a SMEAR station generates huge amounts of numbers every second and it´s equally difficult to compress it, and filter out the crucial. For example, it was almost as sweet as a romantic comedy how Stefan Jonsson talked about some trees growing in the university campus where he works. And it was like a very sophisticated, subtle and nuanced stand-up routine how Tim Brodribb revealed the secrets of stomata in old plants. Yet, at the same time it´s excellent research, where the advances are not merely quantitative, but the scientific thought actually advances. Even my daily life was influenced – on Saturday I drove to countryside to visit my parents and I could not keep my eves off of trees. Senescence and all…
Actually my main expectation was to see Josep Peñuelas. However, once again he did not come (the same happened couple of years ago, in the previous ENVIRON meeting). The decision came in last minute, so that his abstract can still be found from the abstract book. Why did the King of Spain decided to have to ceremony to give him some award on this Thursday is beyond me… But in the end it did not matter – there was plenty of interesting stuff available.
Here are some pictures as well. All but one is taken by Tiia Kurvits, who was the main organizer of the event.