Vegetation is changing on mountain-tops in northern Sweden

Did you know?
As the climate gets warmer, plants from the warmer valleys can survive at higher, colder altitudes if they can get there.
Vegetation is now moving in many ways.
Plants have evolved various types of seeds such as those with hooks, to spread to new locations (see story 2.5).
Some seeds hitch hike on people and birds .
Land use such as reindeer husbandry and conservation during a changing climate can accelerate or slow down vegetation change (reindeer can eat invading trees and shrubs).

Get Active!
Mud Experiment
During a hike, it is very common to come home with muddy boots. Who would have thought that the mud on your boots could be important? Well it sure can be! When hiking, it is easy to pick up seeds or plants on your shoes and bring them home with you, or move them to new places. Within the mud, there are many small organisms, decomposing matter and also seeds! Although the actual chances of transporting a seed is very small, when it happens it could be very important by changing the plant communities and displacing sensitive plant species.

This experiment will show you how common it could be for you to transport a seed on the sole of your shoe. There is a small chance of a seed growing from your shoe as that seed needs to have just the right conditions to do so but many people with many shoes increase this chance.

The aim of the experiment is to see if you are transporting seeds by examining mud and soil collected from where you have been by your shoes. If you are lucky, you will see some vegetation growing in pots with soils collected from your boots. By comparing these seedlings with those from a local soil you will see if you have brought something from outside. Make sure you do this during Spring or Summertime as that is when the plants will grow. In a real-life scientific experiment, scientists would have used many more pots to increase the chance of finding a hitch-hiking seed.
You will need:
Label each of your pots like above.
Add the mud from your left boot into the 'Boot #1' pot and the mud from your right boot into the 'Boot #2' pot.
Add soil (preferably compost that does not have seed in it) on top of both 'Boot Mud' pots. Draw a line on the outside of the pot where the soil went up to (to make sure you have the same volume of soil in each pot).
-Draw the same line on pots 'Control #1' and 'Control #2'.
Add soil/compost into pots 'Control #1' and 'Control #2' up to the line.
Water each pot so the soil is moist.
Keep each pot outside in the same area where sunshine is abundant and water the pot when the soil is dry. You can test this by sticking your finger about 2cm into the soil - if there isn't much soil that sticks to your finger, the soil is dry and you can water it. If the soil sticks to your finger a lot then the pots don't need watering yet.
Record any observations in a notebook or on the back of this paper. Are there any plants growing? Are the same plants growing in the control versus the boot pot?
Wait until you see plants grow, which could take a while! When seedlings have grown, draw and label what your pots look like below.
Keep watering the pots until the seedlings become plants you can identify. Are they different between the boot mud pots and the controls?