Forest trees form the basis of a large proportion of terrestrial ecosystems and provide ecological niches for a vast number of associated organisms. Moreover, forest ecosystems offer a variety of benefits and services to the well-being of humans. The overall aim of our research group is to understand the various neutral and adaptive processes that shape the genetic diversity of tree populations and to use this knowledge to develop reforestation and regeneration guidelines for stable and productive forests.
Our group is maintaining a large network of genetic field trials and nursery experiments. In total, we take care for about 70 field trials all over Austria ranging from elevations as low as 200 m up to elevations of 2000 m and including major coniferous and deciduous tree species (e.g. Norway spruce, pedunculate oak or Douglas fir). In addition to the quantitative data available from these trials, we apply different molecular markers. Besides maintaining and measuring these field trials over longer time periods (~ 30 years), we run a number of research projects to improve knowledge on the processes shaping genetic diversity of forest trees.
Understand local adaptations of tree populations to certain environmental conditions (most notable climate) have become one of our major objectives within the last years. We aim at identifying the local adaptation of quantitative traits (e.g. growth performance, bud burst, drought sensitivity) in order to develop recommendations for seed transfer for tree nurseries and forest services. Moreover, we are also interested in natural processes that putatively facilitate adaptation to climate change.
Disseminations and Services
Dissemination and Knowledge transfer are vital parts of our work. For dissemination, we publish many of our results in German-speaking forestry journals, practical guidelines for forest managements, but we also use the multilingual web portal www.forestknowledge.net. In order to disseminate guidelines on the use of forest reproductive material directly to end users, we developed the platform www.herkunftsberatung.at. Here, any forest owner or forest manager can get exact information about the forest seeds or seedling that should be used in the particular case. In addition, we organise events and excursion with forest managers and forest nursery producers to spread scientific knowledge as wide as possible.
In our unit, we maintain a specialised laboratory for the analysis of forest seed material. We offer quantitative and qualitative tests for seed weight and seed vitality (viability and germinability) according to international standards and in accordance with national and European legislation .
Ongoing research projects
- Softwood for the Future
- Green Heritage II