April 20, 2022

In March our team (Michał and Tomasz) inaugurated field works in the PIONEER project and spent one week in the snow-bound Tatra Mountains to obtain first cores of high-mountain lake sediments.

The campaign of the PIONEER project ("Palaeogenomics of Central European refugia: spatio-temporal dynamics of arctic-alpine flora at the interplay of northern and temperate latitudes") was organized together with two other experienced teams from the Polish Academy of Sciences: the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization led by Michał Słowiński and the Institute of Geological Sciences led by Michał Gąsiorowski. This gave us an opportunity to learn the procedures of sampling lake sediments from our more experienced colleagues. After a few days of work in freezing and snowy weather we managed to sample up to 3-m long cores from three lakes in the Dolina Gąsienicowa valley. We sampled the sediment cores using lightweight Uwitec device from the frozen lake surfaces, through the ice-holes drilled in 1 m-thick ice. The culmination of our work was sampling a core from the 50 m-deep Czarny Staw Gąsienicowy lake, which was an extraordinary experience.

Ultimately, we plan to collect sediment cores from up to ten localities in collaboration with our colleagues from the two other institutes. The sampling sites will be placed at different altitudes in the Tatra Mts. (Carpathians) and the Karkonosze Mts. (Sudetes), possibly reaching the Late Glacial layers. Sediments will be radiocarbon-dated, used for palaeobotanical analyses and isolation of sedimentary ancient DNA (sedaDNA). The DNA analyses is the main aim of the PIONEER project, and will be used to reconstruct the past biotic assemblages in the Central European mountains and their historical biogeographical links. More extensive information on the project will be available soon. We are looking forward to the next field campaign in the Tatra Mts. planned for this summer!

We would like to acknowledge here the generous help of TOPR (the Tatra mountain rescue organization) and their logistic support which greatly facilitated transporting the equipment and materials.