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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2019-05-01 - 2020-04-30

The project will develop an automatizing, modular minirhizotron (MR) image acquisition system (prototypes) for permanent field placement and an accompanying software solution (beta) to automatize root tracking (segregation) and soil water content determination. Objectives: - Design and build the prototype of an autonomous, connected, and modular MR camera carrier system for permanent installation and operation in MR tubes installed under controlled conditions (mesocosms) and in situ (arctic to desert environments). - Develop two imaging / camera modules to be used with the carrier system, a o low cost VIS RGB-based, UHD module (Imaging module 1, IM_1), and an o Advanced imaging module, combining RGB and selected multispectral (NIR) wavebands for advanced image analysis (IM_2). - Developing a Machine learning/neural network based analysis workflow incl. UI to allow for o Basic root segmentation and soil water content determination (IM_1) o Advanced root segmentation and classification, and soil water content determination (IM_2) on MR images.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-09-01 - 2021-08-31

The overall project goal of the project Carbopart 2 is to lay the foundation for large scale reafforestation in Ethiopia. We will use the knowledge gained in Carbopart 1 to develop large scale reafforestation schemes using ecologically stable tree mixtures as opposed to non–ecologically stable monocultures. Further we will develop a program based on ecological forest monitoring, forest growth modelling and forest planning/management to establish sustainable harvesting routines based on species mixture thinning and regeneration options. The overall aim is to develop forest systems with multiple uses which in the short term produce a constant and sustainable income stream for farmers, and in the long term make a major contribution to Ethiopia climate targets. Within the financial constraints of the project we will establish demonstration sites across different climatic zones. The established forest sites will be used for educating farmers in sustainable forest management with the goal to (i) avoid erosion and thus loss of soil fertility, (ii) ensure continued supply of fuel wood and other timber and non-timber products, and thus (iii) generate income and (iv) to promote further planting programs within REDD+ program activities.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-03-01 - 2019-10-31

Due to their presumed drought tolerance and fast growth rates, the non-native tree species Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Grand fir (Abies grandis) have emerged as viable silvicultural alternatives to Norway spruce (Picea abies) in Austrian forests. However, the effect of these species on the forest soil carbon (C) cycle remains uncertain. If the contribution of these tree species to the forest composition increases in the near future, this information is urgently needed in order to lower the uncertainties of C sequestration estimates for the forestry sector. This project will, therefore, investigate soil C stocks and litter decomposition under Douglas fir and Grand fir in comparison to Norway spruce. Genecological field sites of the Department of Forest Genetics, Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW) will be utilized for a field study in 2018. Soil C stocks and litter decomposition will be determined for Norway spruce, Douglas fir and Grand fir plots in Lower and Upper Austria. Litter decomposition will be analyzed by means of a novel mass loss approach. The method will be developed in the project and allows for an in situ partitioning of litter mass loss into CO2 efflux, leaching of dissolved organic C and litter fragments. By means of the method litter decomposition will be linked to soil C stocks under the respective tree species. It is hypothesized that tree species with a higher partitioning into leaching of dissolved organic carbon have higher soil C stocks. This is one of the first studies investigating the effects of non-native tree species on soil C stocks in Austrian forests. Furthermore, it is the first in situ study partitioning mass loss during litter decomposition in forest ecosystems. The results will be an important information for forest managers which intend to use non-native tree species as an alternative to Norway spruce. The research will also give new insights into the complex process of litter break down and its role in the soil C cycle.

Supervised Theses and Dissertations