Mathias Mayer

The Austrian Soil Science Society (ÖBG) awarded Dr. Mathias Mayer, Post-doctoral researcher at the Institute of Forest Ecology, with the Walter Kubiena Award for his Dissertation on ‘Disturbance Impacts on Soil Carbon Dynamics of Mountainous Forest Ecosystems’.

The award ceremony was held at the ÖBG’s Annual Conference on November 14th and the prize was presented by ÖBG’s president Dr. Andreas Baumgarten.

In memory of the Austrian pioneer in soil sciences, Walter Kubiena, the Austrian Soil Science Society (Österreichische Bodenkundliche Gesellschaft, ÖBG) honours students for their outstanding work in the field of soil science.

In his Dissertation Dr. Mathias Mayer investigated the effects of forest disturbances on soil carbon processes in mountainous forests of the Austrian Alps. Mountain forest soils are often characterized by a shallow organic humus layer above bedrock. These sites are very sensitive to degradation if windthrow or bark beetle attacks destroy the tree layer. For forest sites in the Austrian Calcareous Alps, Dr. Mayer could show that the organic carbon stocks declined significantly within a few years after windthrow. This was mainly related to higher soil temperatures and a related increase in soil organic matter decomposition. However, the presence of tree regeneration could be shown to retard decomposition processes due to ground shading. In order to protect organic soils from degradation after forest disturbance an adequate tree regeneration is therefore of great importance. Dr. Mayer dissertation was conducted under the supervision of Prof. Klaus Katzensteiner.