bioCEED news

UNISprout is back on track!

Hurra, UNISprout is back, and it is better than ever!  

Are you wondering what UNISprout is all about?  Here’s a quick overview of the project: 

Photo: Sil Schuuring

UNISprout is a bioCEED funded project, designed to support the planned fieldwork of Guest Master and PhD students by offering Bachelor students the opportunity to act as a field assistant. The project aims to benefit both parties, by giving Bachelor students the chance to broaden their knowledge and gain valuable experience in the field, and support Master students/ PhDs by providing an engaged field assistant and improve their teaching skills in the field/lab. 

2021 starts off with four exciting projects in terrestrial Biology:  

1.      Development of permafrost thaw along topographical gradients and its links to vegetation 

Vegetation, especially mosses, play an important role in insulating the soil from increasing air temperatures, potentially reducing permafrost thaw, thus leading to a reduced active layer depth (ALT). As of now, we have little knowledge on how the different plant communities on Svalbard affect ALT beneath them…   

2.      Herbivore-induced disturbances in tundra and their effect on active layer depth 

Bryophytes dominate in wide regions of the Arctic, also presenting the dominant vegetation cover on Svalbard. The layer of bryophytes in moss tundra, with its insulating abilities, is a significant factor in preserving permafrost. Herbivore activity such as goose grubbing may damage and remove parts of the moss layer… 

3.      Setup of a warming and moss removal experiment monitoring effect of vegetation on active layer depth 

In high-arctic tundra, vegetation is facing severe challenges due to climate-change-induced warming, shifts in seasonality and potentially increased herbivore pressure. We expect shifts in vegetation from moss-dominated to vascular plant-dominated communities, as well as species shifts within these groups. While mosses are a major component of high Arctic vegetation that is subject to climate-induced change… 

4.      Insulation capacity of moss species and their effect on permafrost thaw 

Mosses play an important role in insulating the soil from increasing air temperatures, reducing the impact on the permafrost. As a result of increasing temperatures and precipitation, the vegetation composition in the Arctic is changing. This shift will likely impact the active layer and permafrost underneath, which could lead to a change in the release… 

Curious about of the projects? You can check them out by following this link: 

We are really looking forward to the upcoming field season and hope that more projects, especially some marine Biology projects, will be available later in the season!
For more information visit UNISprout at or contact Tina Dahl ( or Christina Hess (

Christina Hess

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