Fieldwork among Brown Bears and Siberian Tigers

14 April 2020

Together with PhD student Ditte Arp, collaborators from the Northeast Forestry University in Harbin and locals from a small Chinese village near Heping, Heilongjiang province, Master student Mette Grøn carried out three weeks of fieldwork close to the North Korean and Russian boarder in the Muling Nature Reserve.

On an area that spanned 25 hectares, we investigated factors that influenced the spread of the endangered tree species, northeast Asian yew. Our Chinese collaborators investigated all tree species in the area. This helped us to determine the combination of species in areas where we found yew. I got a huge data set in relatively short time, thanks to our Chinese collaborators’, Mette Grøn says.

Mette Grøn did not doubt that she had to include fieldwork in China:

I could do the same type of fieldwork in a forest in Denmark, but I wanted to work with data from China, and it was an obvious opportunity to get a unique nature experience. The reserve is beautiful, but also a crazy area with Siberian tigers and Asian brown bears. The host worked as a forest ranger and monitored the animals. He found tracks of a Siberian tiger that was headed towards our forest plot, and a video of a brown bear, scratching its back on one of the trees we


Considering the Future

Mette Grøn considered her future career when she chose the topic for her thesis:

I used the software Geographic Information System (GIS), which combines geographical types of data. For example, you can cover the amount of rainfall in an area and see how it floats and where it gathers to determine how wet the soil is in different areas. GIS is used in municipalities in Denmark, so it is a great skill to add to my resume’.

Mette Grøn graduated in December 2019. She is working towards publishing a scientific article with PhD student Ditte Arp.

Mette Grøn and Ditte Arp with a local forest ranger.