Hydraulics of Alpine Plants

Hydraulics of Alpine PlantsAlpine plants are exposed to a harsh environment, which can locally or temporary limit plant hydraulics. For instance, soils may not be developed sufficiently, soil frost can block water uptake for months, and biotic factors, such as fungi, may amplify stress intensities. We analyse the abiotic and biotic factors influencing alpine plant hydraulics with a special focus on timberline trees and conifer needle hydraulics. Hydraulic adaptations and strategies of several alpine species are studied. This is of interest as knowledge on the sensitive alpine ecosystems is still poor. Alpine systems also represent an ideal model system enabling general insights in physiological and ecophysiological traits. We also study the hydraulics of conifer needles.

Research activities focus on

  • Hydraulic architecture of alpine woody species
  • Hydraulic efficiency and safety of conifer needles
  • Characterisation of the hydraulic architecture 
  • Analysis of conifer needle hydraulics
  • Temporal and spatial patterns of hydraulic limitations
  • Stomatal and cuticular transpiration 
  • Influence of fungal disease on transpiration
  • Anatomical adaptations
  • Changes of hydraulic traits with altitude
  • Developments of methods to study herbaceous plants

Austrian Science Fund (FWF), P-18514, PI: Stefan Mayr, until July 2010
Austrian Science Fund (FWF), P-20852, PI: Stefan Mayr

Peter Hietz, Silvia Kikuta, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Uwe Hacke, University of Alberta, Canada
Hervé Cochard, Thierry Améglio, INRA Clermont-Ferrand, France
Andrea Nardini, University of Triest, Italy

Personnel involved
Stefan Mayr
Barbara Beikircher  
Birgit Dämon  
Peter Schmid  
Katline Charra-Vaskou  

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