Latest Projects

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
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2024-01-01 - 2025-10-31

In Austria, several biodiversity monitoring and inventories are currently being carried out for various species and ecosystems. In recent years, vascular plants, grasshoppers, butterflies and wild bees have been systematically recorded as part of the BINATS (Biodiversity-Nature-Safety) and ÖBM (Austrian Biodiversity Monitoring of the Cultural Landscape) projects. Despite these surveys, there is still no systematic monitoring of soil organisms and their threat assessment in Austria. This is surprising, as soils are among the most species-rich habitats. In addition, they play an outstanding role in buffering extreme climate events such as heavy rainfall or drought, as well as in carbon storage. The present project, BodenBiodiv, pursues three objectives in order to close this glaring data gap for Austria and to investigate the causes of different soil biodiversity. Objective 1 is the establishment of a systematic monitoring of the earthworm fauna and soil microorganisms in the open cultural landscape on the 200 plots of the biodiversity monitoring projects BINATS and ÖBM throughout Austria. Lists of the earthworm species present, their abundances and biomasses, and a distribution map for Austria will be compiled. In addition, a manual for monitoring soil biodiversity will be compiled using harmonized terminology. Objective 2 deals with the analysis of factors that are decisive for the occurrence of earthworms. For this purpose, site characteristics (land use, altitude) and soil properties (pH, nutrients, moisture, carbon content, soil microorganism activity) are recorded and correlated with the earthworm parameters recorded. Objective 3 deals with the compilation of a provisional Red List for earthworms in Austria, based on the model of the Red List of earthworms in Germany. To this end, several expert workshops with national and international experts are being held to produce a draft based on current and historical findings and threat assessments in accordance with IUCN guidelines. BodenBiodiv processes indicators on the status of species and biotope types and genetic diversity and provides data for the first compilation of the Red List of earthworms in Austria. By compiling a very comprehensive data set, BodenBiodiv also allows an assessment of the consequences of climate change from the perspective of soil organisms. Last but not least, the surveys of this project allow a differentiated analysis of the interaction between below-ground and above-ground biodiversity from other surveys on the study areas. SoilBiodiv is therefore also of great importance in the European context in terms of nature conservation and science.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2023-10-01 - 2024-09-30

Wild and honey bees are among the most important pollinators. Land use change and habitat degradation are partly responsible for the decline of bee diversity. In landscapes with low and species-poor floral resources, interspecific competition for food between honey bees and wild bees may increase. Honey bees are particularly efficient in finding and collecting mass-flowering crops; but during low mass-flowerings, food may be also collected in semi-natural habitats or protected areas. High honey bee densities low proximity between apiaries and protected areas and low food supply competition for floral resources may increase locally. Wild bee species with honeybee-like ecological traits (mouth part size, body size), may be exposed to greater resource overlap and thus increased competition, as similar food plants are used. The planned initial study aims to identify possible high resource overlap between wild bees and honey bees in (protected) areas with a high proportion of rare bee species (i.e., bee diversity hotspots) in Vienna. Since Vienna is home to 492 species of wild bees, almost half of all Austrian species, including many rare species, the city has a high conservation responsibility. Based on recent literature and interviews with experts, an inventory of bee diversity hotspots is made. Ecological traits are compiled for the species and intersected with data on honey bee densities and habitat quality in the vicinity of the sites to estimate the potential increased resource overlap with honey bees. From a bee conservation perspective, the goal is not to define beekeeping-free areas, but to define situationally appropriate bee ecology spatial planning that prioritizes habitat quality improvement and reduces pressure on sensitive areas.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations