1st Field TRIP / SPUN EXPEDITION in East Carpathians 

The transnational eastern Carpathian mountains hold a special place in the collective imagination of the nations that share them. Our interdisciplinary Team arrived in the Bieszczady region of the eastern Carpathian mountains to study the fungal networks associated with the monumental trees. To do this, we collected soil samples with the precision of molecular biology.

We had the opportunity to prove that old trees are connected to an underground network making up the forest. We made a cross-section of woundwood formed in silver fir stump to expose 15-20 annual rings. It means that the trunk was alive long after being cut which is not possible without the nutritional help of neighbours – other trees and mycorrhizal fungi.

Preserving monumental trees means preserving the value of this region both as a natural ecosystem needed ecologically, but also as a place to retreat when you need some rest and quiet. As mentioned above, we hope that our work will contribute to efforts aiming at the extension of the Bieszczady National Park. And on the spot, we were welcomed by its furry inhabitants – brown bears roaming these mountains.

Details of our trip

Our four day trip, started at 10.05.2023 and lasted till 14.05.2023.
We got from FDP Natural Heritage Foundation (Polish expert NGO) GPS coordinates of 3675 mother trees’ each exceeding the legislative dimensions for natural monuments (18 species, dominated by common beeches and silver firs), Samples collection (groups of 5 beech or 5 fir at 25 sites, in two categories: ‘hot-spot” or ‘cold-spot, 5 pooled and dry preserved root samples from each tree) and DNA preparation (ITS1) will be performed in early May an in early October (to coincide with leaf emergence and senescence).
After NGS sequencing 
(lon Torrent $5) at MBTL the taxonomy data will be processed on University’s access to local supercomputing, fungal networks structures will be compared (QIIME2, tidymicro, phyloseq and NetCoMiR packages).


Region 1

On the inaugural day of the Bieszczady expedition, our research team initiated a comprehensive study focused on mycorrhizal fungi within the region. We commenced our fieldwork, systematically collecting soil samples and recording environmental data to establish a baseline for our research. This initial phase served as the groundwork for the scientific investigation that followed in the subsequent days.

Region 2

On Day 2 of our Bieszczady expedition, we continued investigating mycorrhizal relationships within the region. Armed with tools and cameras, we ventured into the forest, collecting soil samples and documenting the wonderful biodiversity and the unique charm of Bieszczady's region.

Region 3

On Day 3 we gathered the last pieces of essential data, bringing our field research to a close and preparing to analyze our findings in labs. We left Bieszczady with a sense of accomplishment and excitement, already looking forward to our next expedition in October.