Common Fieldtrip in the swiss Alps – summer 2018

Common Fieldtrip in the swiss Alps – summer 2018


From July, 30th, to August, 3rd, 8 members of 4 institutions of the Alpine Seed Conservation and Research project (MSB London, University of Innsbruck, University of Graz, Gap Alpine National Botanic Conservatory and Geneva Conservatory and Botanic Garden) had a common fieldtrip in the Alps, in the area of Haut Val de Bagnes (Valais). We spent these 4 days of botanical hiking to exchange experiences, discuss about the state of different aspects of the project and to collect seeds of the species list. Last but not least, the movie about the project moved forward: we were accompanied by a cameraman who was able to shoot many sequences on the spot, the weather being luckily mostly beautiful during the trip.

All participating members were happy of the success of this rewarding trip. Although it is worrying to note in the field that our efforts to safeguard alpine flora are certainly relevant: the retreat of glaciers in this emblematic valley unfolded before our eyes during these days of heat wave.

A new season for Trifolium saxatile

A new season for Trifolium saxatile

Despite the significant snowfall this winter, the rocky clovers cultivated at the Lautaret pass have been cleared at the same time as last year.

Before the first snowfall in the autumn 2017, we protected clovers from the appetite of the voles with a fence. It worked well! Clovers are in good health and have already new leaves.

In the autumn 2017, we left in place for the winter clovers that didn’t sprout last season. Among them we observe many germination at the end of May 2018, just after the snowmelt.



Autumn 2017 : preparation of the winter season in the “research area” of the Lautaret Alpine Garden, under the vigilance of the Meije (3983m). Under the fence, clovers transplanted in individual pots after germination during 2017 season. Under the green veil: seeds that haven’t sprout during the 2017 season.

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!

Searching for Sweet Clover: joint field trip in Zermatt

Searching for Sweet Clover: joint field trip in Zermatt

A joint field trip of CBNA and CJBG  was organized at the end of July 2017 in the area of Zermatt, especially looking for Trifolium saxatile All. Sweet clover (Felsenklee, trèfle des rochers, trifoglio dei greti) is a pioneer heliophilous sub-alpine to alpine species . It grows mostly on sandy-gravelly alluvial soils on the edges of torrents and on recent moraires. This uncompetitive species depends on particular conditions (torrential erosion, landslide dynamic) to maintain an open environment. Consequently, it has a very limited potential habitat in the Alps and is listed as “vulnerable” in Switzerland. In this country, it is endemic to the Vispvalleys region (Zermatt, Saas Fee) and distributed between 1400 and 2700 m. above sea level. In a splendid landscape under the Gornergrat, at the edge of the Gorner glacier, one quite large population has been identified and described. Leaf samples were taken for DNA analysis in Gap-Charance and seeds harvested for cold storage in Geneva. We could collect some other species in this area during this trip.



Following the 2nd meeting in Gap, some participants braved the rain (not yet snow) to discover the landscapes and vegetation from Gap region.

Visiting the silver mines in l’Argentière la Bessée allowed us to shelter but also to find some bryophytes to be determined. We enjoyed à dryer afternoon to visit the Juniperus thurifera forest.


Collecting field trip in Queyras

Collecting field trip in Queyras

The Queyras is an Eastern French mountain range at the Italian border.  A Regional Natural Park covers the massif and this area houses a few of rare species in the Alps or in France. Indeed, several Eastern species reach here their Western distribution limit (Tofieldia pusilla, Isatis alpina, Primula halleri…).

We spent three days in Queyras (September 7th, 11th and 12th): two days were necessary to collect, among other species, Primula halleri, Primula marginata, Artemisia glacialis, Saxifraga diapensioides and Isatis alpina. The third day was spent in monitoring a population of Tofieldia pusilla and collecting seeds. The Queyras Regional Park was involved in these activities.

Saxifraga diapensoides Foréant lake, collecting place of Isatis alpina
Collection of Isatis alpina





Christian Berg, 30 August 2017, Institute of Plant Sience – University of Graz

Three things are needed for a great seed-collecting trip: a species-rich location, the right time, and nice weather! All this we found from 23-25 August 2017 at the Eisenerzer Alps, 60 km northwest of Graz.

The Eisenerzer Alps are a substantial part of the greywacke zone, a band of Paleozoic metamorphosed sedimentary rocks between the granite basement rocks of the Central Eastern Alps and the Mesozoic rocks of the Northern Calcareous Alps. As mountain-forming material we find phyllites, shale, metamorphic volcanic rocks, weakly metamorphic limestone (marbles), quartzites, and less common, graywacke.

The zone is rich in mineral resources (iron, copper, magnesite, graphite, etc.), and near the city of Eisenerz we find the “Styrian Erzberg”, a giant open-pit mine. Erzberg represents the largest iron ore reserves in Austria, having estimated reserves of 235 million tonnes of ore in form of the mineral Siderite (iron-2-carbonate). Since the 19th century, Erzberg was the basis of a remarkable economic development of iron producing and processing industry in a previously extremely poor and underdeveloped country, giving it the name “Styrian loaf mountain”. The price was the loss of a singular mountain ecosystem leaving an open wound in the landscape.

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