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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2022-10-01 - 2025-05-31

Austria is home to around 700 species of wild bees. This group of insects is one of the most efficient pollinators and is thus indispensable for the functionality of terrestrial ecosystems. Due to their differentiated habitat requirements, they are also ideally suited as indicator organisms for nature conservation. Various studies have shown a strong decline of wild bees in recent decades. Little is known about their status and development in Austria. However, knowledge about this is a central prerequisite for the effective protection of wild bees. Therefore, the objectives of the project are (1) the documentation of the status quo of wild bees on the basis of selected sites in the Austrian cultural and natural landscape (arable land, grassland, protected areas), (2) the connection of the wild bee indicator to the planned Austrian monitoring program based on BINATS and ÖBM and (3) the introduction of a bumble bee monitoring as a Citizen Science project. The planned project will be the basis for a well-founded assessment of the population situation of wild bee species in Austria.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-06-01 - 2026-05-31

The research in plant physiology and anatomy of woody plants has focused mainly on the wood of stems, primary roots, and leaves, while the bark has received far less attention until now. Small pores in the outer bark, called lenticels, allow continuous gas exchange between the atmosphere and the underlying living tissues of the bark and wood. One important aspect of the bark is the multi-functional role it plays in the carbon budget of the entire plant. Immediately beneath the dead outer bark lies a “green sleeve” of living cells that surrounds the stem and contains abundant chloroplasts. The main function of this green sleeve is thought to be related to the refixation of respiratory carbon dioxide, but it may also serve other functions vital to the tree's survival, such as supplying oxygen, maintaining water transport, defending against pathogens, and healing mechanical injuries. As trunks age, rhytidome formation reduces the light penetration through the outer bark, making the inner bark incapable of photosynthesis. This represents a trade-off between the protective function of the outer bark and the physiological function of the underlying living tissues. Objectives: The main objective is to investigate the multi-functionality of the living green layers of the bark in terms of: carbon balance, plant hydraulics, gas exchange, light transmission, and biomechanical functions. The project aims to establish a new research discipline called "phytodermatology" that incorporates functional, structural, and physiological approaches to the study of bark in order to fill gaps in our current knowledge. Approach: Histological and physiological studies will be conducted on ten different tree species that differ in bark structure, lenticel type, and bark and wood anatomy, with the aim of determining the net carbon gain of the whole plant, the distribution of the green sleeve within and between species, and the photosynthetic capacity of the bark. Originality and innovation: the role of the green sleeve in carbon balance, oxygenation, and hydraulics of woody plants remains largely unexplored. Combining classical methods of anatomy with state-of-the-art technologies such as microCT to measure structural changes in lenticels, chlorophyll fluorescence techniques to measure light transmission, 13C labeling, and isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) to track the various carbon fluxes in the stem should allow us to gain new insights into bark structure and function.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-11-14 - 2025-10-31

Extensively managed agricultural habitats such as meadow orchards are of great importance as high-quality habitats for many animal and plant species. However, meadow orchard areas are declining, but precise data is lacking as there is no nationwide survey of meadow orchard areas. The "meadow orchard" habitat is also underrepresented in other biodiversity monitoring projects. As part of the DivMoSt project, the meadow orchard in selected test areas are to be surveyed using remote sensing methods and the biodiversity in the areas is documented on reference areas by examining certain animal groups. The selection of test areas and reference areas will be carried out on a representative basis throughout Austria. Relevant regional orchard stakeholders are to be involved in the selection of areas. The objectives of the DivMoSt project are: 1) Development of methods for surveying meadow orchards using remote sensing data (evaluation of satellite photos, orthophotos, laser scans, etc.) 2) Recording the structure of the orchards by documenting nesting cavities, shrubs/hedges, deadwood elements. 3) Surveying wild pollinators by focusing on wild bees and butterflies. 4) Recording bat species using of acoustic detectors and net trapping; 5) Recording bird species using acousitc detectors and field observations

Supervised Theses and Dissertations