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Mountain Biology

``The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge``

(Thomas Berger)

Ecosystem processes in
mountain environments


Ecosystem processes present a link between organisms and environment. Important processes include decomposition, production (of plant matter), and nutrient cycling. This session will address the characteristics for ecosystems and ecosystem processes in mountain regions.

  1. What are the (typical) ecosystem responses to climate change in mountain regions?
  2. How do changes in land-use alter the productivity and carbon cycling of mountain ecosystems?
  3. What are the drivers for the decomposition of organic matter in mountain ecosystems?
  4. Do community changes alter ecosystem processes and/or vice versa?

Coordinated by: Florian Oberleitner & David Reinthaler

Keywords: ecosystem processes; carbon cycle; decomposition

Land-Atmosphere Interactions


Humans modify the land surface in many ways that influence the fluxes of energy and trace gases between land and atmosphere. Anthropogenic emissions change the chemical composition of the atmosphere and anthropogenic aerosols change the radiative balance of the Earth. Feedbacks among all these processes couple land, atmosphere, and biogeochemical cycles.

  1. What are the (special) challenges and problems in quantifying sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in mountainous regions?
  2. Do biogenic emissions of trace gases play an important role in mountain environments?
  3. What are important differences, and what are common features when measuring trace gas and aerosol eddy fluxes above urban and forested areas in mountain environments?
  4. To what extent does the topography influence the built up of gases in mountain valleys?
  5. What sources and processes drive OH reactivity in mountainous air masses and what is the influence of Föhn events

Coordinated by: Christian Lamprecht

Keywords: emissions; gas fluxes; biogenic and anthropogenic emissions

Plant-, soil- and
microorganism interactions in mountain ecosystems


Important environmental processes are strongly regulated by plant-microbial-soil interactions. This session, will address interactions between plant-, soil and microorganisms in mountain ecosystems and their functions in processing nutrients.

  1. How do plant-, soil- and microorganism interactions work in mountain ecosystems?
  2. How do plant-, soil- and microorganism interactions respond to environmental changes?
  3. What are the interaction hot spots? Is there a difference between mountain and non-mountain regions?
  4. What are the drivers for microbial turnover, mobilization and immobilization of nutrients?

Coordinated by: Nadine Praeg

Keywords: Plant-, soil-, and microorganism interactions; environmental change; microbial turnover; rhizosphere

Species and functional
diversity in mountain ecosystems


Mountain regions and their relief offer an immense amount of niches that can be occupied by various organisms. Mountain ecosystems are therefore hotspots for biodiversity. In this session, we will focus on different aspects of diversity concerning species and functional level and its role in the ecosystem.

  1. What are the driving factors (abiotic, biotic) for biodiversity in mountain environments, on species and functional level?
  2. How do environmental changes (climate, land-use) affect species and functional diversity in mountain ecosystems – now and in the future?
  3. How do plants alter the microbial community composition in soils of mountain ecosystems and vice versa?

Coordinated by: Lena Nicklas

Keywords: biodiversity; climate; land-use; functional diversity, species diversity

Adaptations to mountain


Mountain ecosystems present harsh conditions for organisms in general. Thus, various types of adaptations developed. Organisms that adapted on an evolutionary time scale are now facing short-term climatic challenges.

  1. How well are organisms and populations (plants, animals, and microorganisms) able to adapt to climatic challenges in mountain ecosystems?
  2. Do species that are able to adapt to climatic changes have advantages compared to species that are restricted to certain conditions?
  3. Can climate-driven changes of the environment exceed physiological tolerances and affect functionality and productivity of plant species in mountain and alpine ecosystems?


Coordinated by: Vera Margreiter

Keywords: adaptation; population; ecology and evolution

Methodological approaches for
data acquisition


Data acquisition is essential in natural sciences. But what to measure? How to measure? And where to measure? These questions are not as simple to answer as they seem. The session focuses on different measurement methods and equipment.

  • Atmospheric measurements
  • Soil analysis
  • Abundance/Counting
  • (Functional, morphological, genomic) trait investigations
  • Physiological measurements
  • Next-generation sequencing
  • Metagenomics, Metatranscriptomics, Metabolomics

Coordinated by: N. N.

Keywords: Atmospheric measurements; soil analysis; abundance/counting; (functional, morphological, genomic) trait investigations; physiological measurements; next-generation sequencing; metagenomics; metatranscriptomics; metabolomics

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