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Workshop: Ecology of Glacier Forelands 

September 17 - 21, 2014; Obergurgl Austria


A cooperation between:

MUSE - Museo delle Scienze (Trento, Italy)

Mauro Gobbi, Valeria Lencioni


Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl

Ruediger Kaufmann, Brigitta Erschbamer, Nikolaus Schallhart



This page contains information on:

pdf Documents

Please use the links below to obtain pdf documents of the scientific program, the second circular, the author guidelines for the abstracts and the abstract book.

Aims and Scope

Over the last years people working on glacier forelands and on pro- or periglacial environments have brought forward highly interesting new aspects from a variety of geographic regions. Among them are really astonishing and unexpected results which raise the question what are local specifics and what are common traits and mechanisms in such environments. This calls for common approaches and joint actions on a super-regional scale. In a follow-up of our 2008 workshop we therefore want to bring together people working on any organisms with their interactions and their abiotic environment in the terrestrial and aquatic habitats of deglaciated terrain of any kind including debris covered glaciers, rock glaciers, and nunataks.

There are two major aims of this workshop:

1. Planning joint actions and harmonizing approaches

2. Outlining a review paper on this topic


Features of the workshop will be

  • Sessions with brief talks to bring everyone up to speed about the latest developments and ideas
  • Workgroups to discuss specific matters such as methodology, particular organism groups, theories and models, etc.
  • Synthesizing the outcome into a plan for joint actions across geographic regions and into a concept for a large review on glacier forelands and periglacial environments.
  • Half-day excursion to a local glacier foreland, and an optional full-day excursion in the region on the last day.



The workshop will be held at our University Centre in Obergurgl (Gaisbergweg 5, 6456 Obergurgl) of which the Alpine Research Centre is a part. It is located in the immediate vicinity of the central divide of the Austrian Alps featuring many beautiful glacier forelands, rock glaciers and whatever periglacial phenomena you want to see.

For further Information on the University Centre or the Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl please visit the following homepages:

There will be no conference fee. Expenses for travel and lodging have to be covered by the participants. Prices at the University Centre are:

  • Half board, double room                   EUR 63/day
  • Half board, single room                    EUR 83/day
  • Additional lunch                               EUR 19/meal


Arrival and Departure

Obergurgl is about an hour and a half to drive from Innsbruck. For participants arriving by train or plane we will organize a gathering point at the University of Innsbruck and arrange transfer to Obergurgl on Wednesday evening (17.09.).

Since nearly all of you expressed their interest in the excursion on Sunday bus transfer back to Innsbruck will be on Monday morning (22.09.) after breakfast.


Scientific Structure

The program contains 25 scientific talks organised in 5 Sessions on Thursday and Friday. Speaking time will be 10 minutes plus 5 minutes discussion.

There will be a poster session on Thursday and workgroup sessions (parallel with options to move between groups) on Saturday.

The Topics of the workgroup sessions will be:

  1.  Interactions: Organismic, Environmental, Trophic
  2.  Periglacial Environments & Permafrost across the Regions of the World
  3.  Community Ecology of Colonization & Succession (including Theory)

Additionally we will organise 2 excursions at no charge, a half-day excursion on Friday afternoon and a full-day excursion on Sunday. Please note that the final programs of the excursions depend on the weather conditions.


Program Overview

 timetable scientific program





















Scientific Program

Thursday 18.09.2014

09:30-10:30 Session 1

09:30     Brigitta Erschbamer
How fast does glacier foreland colonisation proceed?

09:45     Thomas Fickert & Friederike Grüninger
Klebelsberg revisited – Did primary succession in glacier forelands a century ago differ from today?

10:00     Mauro Gobbi, Mattia Brambilla & Simone Tenan
Suggesting analytical approaches for a better understanding of arthropod ecology along glacier forelands

10:15     Rüdiger Kaufmann
Connell & Slatyer revisited: What we really know about mechanisms driving succession of glacier forelands

11:00-12:30 Session 2

11:00     Andrea Danler & Brigitta Erschbamer
Colonization pattern in three glacier forelands in the Ötztal Alps

11:15     Silvia Marcante, Brigitta Erschbamer, Othmar Buchner & Gilbert Neuner
Impact of heat on survival of early developmental stages of glacier foreland species

11:30     Monika Stawska & Agata Buchwal
Radial growth of dwarf shrubs and perennial plants in Ebbadalen (central Spitsbergen)

11:45     Peter O. Bilovitz, Helmut Mayrhofer & Juri Nascimbene
Terricolous lichens in glacier forelands of the Eastern Alps - diversity, abundance and composition

12:00     Marc Oliva & Jesús Ruiz-Fernández
Geoecological dynamics in an ice-free area in the Maritime Antarctica: a study case from Elephant Point (Livingston Island, South Shetland)

12:15     María Ingimarsdóttir, Tancredi Caruso, Jörgen Ripa, Ólöf Birna Magnúsdóttir, Anders Michelsen & Katarina Hedlund
Soil community assembly on nunataks, Iceland

14:00-15:30 Session 3

14:00     Sigmund Hågvar & Mikael Ohlson
Three invisible carbon sources feed pioneer invertebrates in a Norwegian glacier foreland

14:15     Michael Engel, Giacomo Bertoldi, Daniele Penna, Luca Mao, Andrea Dell’Agnese, Francesco Comiti & Stefan Zerbe
The Matsch Glacier forefield (South Tyrol): an integrated analysis of snow cover dynamics, runoff generation and sediment transport. (Additional Poster)

14:30     Laurent Moya, Hannes Peter, Thorsten Dittmar, & Ruben Sommaruga
Ultrahigh-resolution molecular characterization of DOM in glacier-fed and clear alpine lakes

14:45     Ulrike Nickus, Hansjörg Thies, Karl Krainer & Richard Tessadri
Active rock glaciers and their impact on stream water quality (additional poster)

15:00     Marco Caccianiga & Mauro Gobbi
Plant-arthropod communities on glacial and periglacial landforms of the Italian Alps: state of the art and future perspectives

15:15     Jeffrey H. Frederick, Sanjay Pyare, Kevin S. White, Todd J. Brinkman & Kris J. Hundertmark
Terrestrial thermal dynamics and associated constraints on the behavior of Mountain Goats (Oreamnos americanus) in southeast Alaska (additional poster)

16:15-18:15 Poster Session

Mauro Gobbi & Valeria Lencioni
Comparative study on terrestrial and aquatic invertebrate assemblages along a glacier foreland

Sanda Iepure & Javier Lillo Ramos
State of the art of hyporheic invertebrates from glacial-feed streams in two contrasted scenarios

Gianalberto Losapio, Mauro Gobbi, Giuseppe Marano, Chiara Compostella, Patrizia Boracchi & Marco Caccianiga
Plants and flower-visiting insects along a debris-covered glacier foreland

Chiara Maffioletti, Mauro Gobbi & Marco Caccianiga
Distribution patterns in plants and ground beetles along a debris-covered glacier foreland

Georg Rainer, Georg Walch, Maria Knapp, Andreas Gruber & Ursula Peintner
Detection of soil fungal communities from in-growth mesh bags: A comparison of cultivation-based and molecular methods

Duccio Tampucci, Maddalena Raphaela Althea Angeleri, Erika Cabrini, Clara Citterio, Chiara Maffioletti, Federico Mangili, Ilaria Alice Muzzolon, Chiara Compostella, Mauro Gobbi & Marco Caccianiga
Refugia landforms for alpine flora and fauna: ecological and biogeographical significance of a habitat system

Georg Walch, Regina Kuhnert, Maria Knapp, Georg Rainer, Andreas Gruber & Ursula Peintner
Peeking into the black box of biodiversity: Culturing and identifying soil fungi from in-growth mesh bags

Plus eight Posters supplementary to talks (indicated there).

Friday 19.09.2014

09:00-10:15 Session 4

09:00     Ursula Peintner, Irmgard Oberkofler, Gretl Fleisch, Maria Knapp, Georg Rainer, Georg Walch & Regina Kuhnert
Knowns and unknowns: winter soil fungal communities and their possible interactions

09:15     Maria Knapp, Georg Rainer, Georg Walch & Ursula Peintner
Soil fungal communities from in-growth mesh bags in snow covered alpine soil (additional poster)

09:30     Regina Kuhnert, Irmgard Oberkofler, Gretl Fleisch & Ursula Peintner
What happens with the fungal biomass under the snow cover in alpine soils? (additional poster)

09:45     Alfonso Esposito, Engy Ahmed, Sonia Ciccazzo, Johannes Sikorski, Jörg Overmann, Sara J. M. Holmström & Lorenzo Brusetti
Bioprospecting of the microbial diversity in varnish and non-varnish rock surfaces (additional poster)

10:00     Lorenzo Brusetti, Sonia Ciccazzo, Alfonso Esposito, Elisa Varolo & Stefan Zerbe
Bacterial communities associated to the nitrogen cycle in proto-soils of the Matsch Valley glacier forefield (South Tyrol, Northern Italy)

11:00-12:00 Session 5

11:00     Michael Traugott, Rüdiger Kaufmann, Daniela Sint, & Corinna Wallinger
Trophic ecology - functional perspectives on species communities in glacier forelands (additional poster)

11:15     Daniela Sint, Lorna Raso, Corinna Wallinger, Rüdiger Kaufmann & Michael Traugott
What DNA can do for you – molecular methods to investigate trophic interactions in glacier forelands (additional poster)

11:30     Corinna Wallinger, Mauro Gobbi, Ilse Kranner & Michael Traugott
Primary succession of plant–herbivore interactions on Alpine glacier forelands

11:45     Andrea Fischer
Time series of glacier fluctuation data as precondition and result of glacier forefield evidence in the Austrian Alps: Status quo and open questions

13:30-18:30 Excursion to Rotmoos Glacier Foreland

Saturday 20.09.2014

09:00-11:00 Workgroup Sessions (parallel with options to move between groups)

  1. Interactions: Organismic, Environmental, Trophic
  2. Periglacial Environments & Permafrost across the Regions of the World
  3. Community Ecology of Colonization & Succession (including Theory)

11:30-12:30 Workgroup Results (plenary)

11:30     Interactions: Organismic, Environmental, Trophic

11:50     Periglacial Environments & Permafrost across the Regions of the World

12:10     Community Ecology of Colonization & Succession (including Theory)

14:00-16:15 Synthesis Session

Pinpointing knowledge gaps.

Planning joint actions and harmonizing approaches.

17:00-19:00 Review Paper Session

Planning a comprehensive review paper on current knowledge about ecology of glacier forelands and periglacial environments.



For additional questions on the workshop please contact Ruediger Kaufmann: ruediger.kaufmann@uibk.ac.at