Publication of germination data for Austrian collections

Publication of germination data for Austrian collections

By the joint effort of all partners in this project, 597 Alpine species were collected and sent to the Millennium Seed Bank, to be archived. Out of this pool, the two Austrian partners collected 255 species in the European Eastern Alps.

Checking the seed germination success before archiving seeds in a seedbank, is a necessary step for a valuable conservation. Hence, a germination test was applied using the standard protocol of the Innsbruck Lab.

Some examples of seeds and seedlings of tested species from top left clockwise to bottom left: Seed of Silene exscapa; seedling of Silene exscapa; seeds of Leucanthemopsis alpina; seedling of Leucanthemopsis alpina; seedling of Minuartia sedoides; seeds of Minuartia sedoides; seedling of Poa alpina; seedling of Saxifraga cernua. Pictures were taken under a digital microscope; credit to Pernfuß B.
Fig. 1 of the publication showing the classifications of the species made in the study and numbers of species per class. For further information see the publication.

The results of these tests are pooled in a publication entitled “Pros and cons of using a standard protocol to test germination of alpine species”, which was published in “Plant Ecology”.

Find the open access article here:

Margreiter, V., Pagitz, K., Berg, C. et al. Pros and cons of using a standard protocol to test germination of alpine species. Plant Ecol 221, 1045–1067 (2020).

Flashback: Field finish & Lab process

Flashback: Field finish & Lab process

In August and September 2018, measuring biomass was on the daily work menu. After 2-3 days of ring-sample harvesting in the field, we spend minimum 3, up to 8 days in the laboratory for biomass data aquisition. This procedure was repeated four times, because of four experiment sites along an altitudinal gradient. See what was going on:

Shown here are examples of the lowest experiment site OG at 2000 m a.s.l. in Ötztal, in the central Austrian Alps. Rings were pulled out of the soil with a plant trowel. Roots and soil outstanding of the ring were cut off with a knife. The complete rings were put in plastic bags and stored in the fridge immediately after harvest at ~4°C until further processing in the Lab.

In the Laboratory, whole ring content (without plastic ring) was measured before and after cutting the aboveground plant parts off.

The cut off plants were sorted and species were identified. The picture on the right shows the output of a ring with facilitation treatment and sown bulbils of Poa alpina (target species).

The output seen above comprises 63 surviving bulbils of Poa alpina, 17 Trifolium pratense (including 7 seedlings), 2 Geranium sylvaticum, 16 shoots of Anthoxanthum odoratum, 4 shoots of Myosotis alpestris, 3 shoots of Ranunculus villarsii and 8 seedlings of Poa alpina and Agrostis capillaris each. Fresh weight was measured per species.

The central plant, the facilitator, was removed separately including above- and belowground parts. These were weighted separately as well. Pic plant: Poa alpina

After the fresh weight was measured, the aboveground plant-parts were put in paper bags (species wise) and put in the dry oven at 70°C.

Additionally, 10 individuals of each sown species (9 species) were pulled out of the soil from randomly chosen rings at each altitudinal experiment site, with as much roots as possible.

From these individuals we measured fresh weight aboveground as well as belowground. The picture shows Leucanthemopsis alpina individuals from 2600 m a.s.l.

The data from these 10 individuals may not be used in a big analysis, but they surly give an insight into the accumulated root biomass of the species within the two vegetation periods along the altitudinal gradient.

This laboratory work was done with help from the working groups’ technical assistant (right) and an extra employee (not in the picture). Extra help also came from my parents (left) who did a great job in the lab as well as in the field. They spend a lot of their free time, compensating a lack of money for more employees.

Without this crew, especially in the lab, the fresh weight measurements would have not been possible! Many thanks! Vera

Tyrolean Science Fund

Tyrolean Science Fund

Every year, the Provincial Government of Tyrol, Austria, launches a funding programme to promote scientific research and young scientists from all Tyrolean Universities. Vera Margreiter applied for this Tyrolean Science Fund with a proposal, focusing on the research of the genus Saxifraga. After starting the work with Saxifraga within the project ASCRN, it became clear pretty soon, that for a comprehensive observation and data collection of plant traits we would need more time and more ressources.

To make the long story short – Vera´s proposal was positively evaluated, leading to a share of the Tyrolean Science Fund cake. So, fortunately, research starting off through the ASCRN can now be extended beyond the timeframe of the Network.

All price winners of the Tyrolean Science Fund from all Tyrolean Universities. Vera standing in first row, 8th from the left; 10th from the left: Univ.-Prof. DI Bernhard Tilg, National Council; 1st from the left: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Tanzer, Vice Rector for Research.

Visit from the French Embassy in Austria

Visit from the French Embassy in Austria

Le Pôle interdisciplinaire d’études françaises de l’Université d’Innsbruck together with the French Embassy in Vienna, are expanding and intensifying the relations of the University of Innsbruck to France. To get insights into the work of the already existing French-Austrian cooperations, a group of representatives visited diverse Departments of Innsbruck University.

As the “Alpine Seed Conservation and Research Network” includes such a cooperation, the group of representatives also stopped by at the Department of Botany in Innsbruck, where among others Konrad Pagitz & Vera Margreiter  presented the Network and their work.

Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Eva Lavric, Director of Le Pôle interdisciplinaire d’études françaises de l’Université d’Innsbruck, MMag.a Ramona Kaier and Ludovic Milot MA, coordinators of Le Pôle, accompanied the Director of the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in Vienna, Dr. Jacques-Pierre Gougeon, on his tour through Innsbruck.

See some pictures of the warm and nice come-together.

Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Ilse Kranner, head of the Department of Botany, welcomed the visitors with coffee in her office, where the ice broke fast and laughs were allowed.

Left to right: Vera Margreiter, Jacques-Pierre Gougeon, Konrad Pagitz, Ilse Kranner, Benjamin Dietre, Ludovic Milot. Eva Lavric in the front. Not in the picture: Ramona Kaier and Erwann Arc (Pic: Kaier)

 Vera Margreiter & Jacques-Pierre Gougeon (Pic: Kaier)

Explanation of the Network and the research on seed germination in the field area in Obergurgl, Ötztal, Tyrol, Austria.

(Pic: Kaier)

Visitation of the Laboratory facilities of the working group “Population Biology and Vegetation Ecology” with insights into the germination tests. Some seedlings are very tiny and need a closer look to identify!

Eva Lavric, Vera Margreiter, Jacques-Pierre Gougeon, Ilse Kranner (Pic: Kaier)

It was a pleasure to welcome the representatives of Le Pôle interdisciplinaire d’études françaises de l’Université d’Innsbruck as well as Dr. Jacques-Pierre Gougeon from the French Embassy!

New Year New Experiment Setup

New Year New Experiment Setup

The research on the “Effects of provenances and phenotypic aspects of the genus Saxifraga” is progressing well. We finished the first season of the Common Garden Experiment in the Botanical Garden in Innsbruck. As the team successfully collected Saxifraga seeds again last summer, a new attempt with new species and more provenances could be done! Thanks to everyone collecting!

Here are some insights in the simplified steps to a new experiment:

1.Find the species of interest & collect seeds at the right time

Saxifraga rudolphiana, Großbachtal, East Tyrol, Austria. This species is very rare only occurring in high alpine (subnival) areas in the Eastern Alps.


2. Prepare seed proportions

This is one of the most time consuming part in preparing this experiment. For this year´s attempt, I test 23 species coming from up to four provenances from the Southern-, Western- and Eastern Alps.

3. Sow seeds carefully

4. Let pots soak up water and bring them in the garden


This are 127 pots with each containing 100 Saxifraga seeds.


Happy New Year and good success to all the experiments running this year!

Research Highlights – May 2017

Research Highlights – May 2017


Vera Margreiter, University of Innsbruck

Botanical research work comprises a variety of different tasks, from office work and organization to laboratory work and controlled conditions to dealing with difficulties of living organisms and weather in the field. Some parts and phases are arduous, other parts are brilliant and worth all the effort. May 2017 was a month with an extraordinary amount of pleasing highlights in research work.

Scholarly exchange. As the working groups in Pavia (Italy) and Innsbruck (Austria) are both dealing with germination patterns of the genus Saxifraga, a personal discussion on the work procedure, apart from emails, is indispensable. Therefore, I had a visit in Pavia that included content-rich talks, a glimpse into the Botanical Garden and an impression of the oldest University in Italy, which is also one of the oldest Universities in Europe (since 1361).

“Scopoli Plane tree”, a century-old tree planted by the well-known botanist in the Botanical Garden of Pavia.

Impression of a street in Pavia, where most streets were built with stones.


Conference Experience. From 18th – 20th May, the POPBIO2017 (Population Biology in a Changing World) – Conference of the Plant Population Biology Section of the Ecological Society of Germany, Austria and Switzerland | GfÖ) was held in Halle/Saale in Germany ( My supervisor, Brigitta Erschbamer, a master student and I participated this conference. I presented a poster with the field research work of my PhD.


Poster Session at the PopBio Conference 2017 in Halle with Agnes Dellinger (University Vienna) and Niek Scheepens (Chair of the Plant Population Biology Group).



 Field Work. As the temperature rose quickly in the end of May, snow melted in high altitudes and it was about time to have a look to the lowest field sites (2000 m, 2300 m) in Obergurgl, Ötztal, Austria. Information about the research is available in the section Research on this webpage ( With slightly tension on how the experiment sites would look like after the winter, the setup was in good state and germination of sowed seeds was already visible. First records were done directly and by the end of May, the field summer season started a few weeks earlier than expected.

One of the 1 m²-plots (three in total per site) at 2300 m a.s.l.

Seedlings of Silene exscapa in a ring with the artificial soil-approach.