Colonization and species replacement in permanent plots at different moraines of the Rotmoosferner glacier foreland (Obergurgl, Tyrol, Austria) (1996-2015)

Rotmoosferner glacier forelandGlacier forelands are ideal sites to investigate the development of populations and plant communities from the very beginning onwards. Colonization starts with pioneer species. They are replaced slowly by early and then by late successional species. The replacement processes along a primary succession gradient can only be observed by long-term monitoring studies.
At the glacier foreland of the Rotmoosferner (Obergurgl, Ötztal, Tyrol, Austria, 2300-2450 m a.s.l.) spatial and temporal trends in species dynamics and colonization are investigated in permanent plots, comparing vegetated and bare-ground plots. In total, 40 plots of 25 x 25 cm were established in 1996. One half of the plots was treated with a seed mixture in 1996 and 1997.

Research Questions

  • development of vegetation cover and species richness
  • dynamics on vegetated and bare-ground plots
  • long-term effects of seed addition
  • predictions of long-term changes


External Collaborators
Eckart Winkler, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ, Leipzig, Germany  

Personnel involved
Brigitta Erschbamer

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