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!
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.
Last week, CBNA hosted Alpine seed and research conservation network 2nd meeting in Gap from 23 to 25th November.
The participants were able to discover Charance Domaine, crossing the woods to join CBNA’s garden and office.
A splendid setting to hear everyone’s research and project updates.
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.
||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. …
Read More Read More
Patrick Schwager, 30. August 2017, Institute of Plant Science – University of Graz
Once ecological data are associated with coordinates, the information is given a spatial component. To work with different types of spatial ecology data different software solutions (GIS, software for statistical analysis, etc.) are needed. Proprietary software is often very expensive and linked to commercial support. Open source solutions are more cost effective because they are freely available to download and use. The large open source community also helps new members with steep learning curves and provides support via online forums. Deciding where to start, and which open source programmes to use can, however, still be challenging. …
Read More Read More
Our Alpine Project landed in China this year! With Andrea, Simone and Thomas at the International Botanical Congress – (Shenzhen)
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 (http://www.popbio2017.de/). 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 (http://www.alpineseedconservation.eu/index.php/germination-establishment-and-phenotypic-plasticity-of-alpine-species/). 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.
The aim of the Trifolium saxatile project is to examine the spatial and temporal response of the plant and its symbiotic partners (mycorrhiza and rhizobia) facing global change. The study is based on the resurrection approach: seeds of 90’s and 2016 were collected in three sites and cultivated under common conditions (in common garden and lab). We measure several traits on these plants like germination date, aerial and underground biomass, mycorrhization rate…
The lab experiment was set up in november and we are now recording the data on leaves and roots traits and quantifying the abundance of mycorrhizae into the plants’ rhizosphere. The roots of each individual have been colored, bringing out the chitin of the fungus cells. Then, a microscope observation allows us to estimate a percentage of colonization for each Trifolium plant. The observed fungus are endomycorizae, more precisely arbuscular mycorrhizae, belonging to the family of Glomeromycetes. Different parts of the fungus can be detected: extra-cellular hyphae, storage vesicles, spores and intra-cellular arbuscules. Arbuscules are a place of exchanges between plants and fungus (particularly carbon from plant to fungi, and in the opposite way nitrogen, phosphorus and water).
Nodules, root formations sheltering rhizobia, the bacterial symbiotic partner, are visible to the naked eye and also well apparent under the microscope. A part of the study is dedicated to this interaction too.
In a second step we plan to identify rhizobia and mycorrhiza species.
The two root symbiotic partners of Trifolium saxatile: arbuscular mycorrhizae (left) and nodule sheltering rhizobia (right).