Research Center Ecology of the Alpine Region

Head

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Ulrike Tappeiner (Institute of Ecology)

Deputy Head

Ao. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Gilbert Neuner (Institute of Botany)

Research Objectives

Global changes particularly their dynamics have dramatically gained in importance in the last decades. Within the last 650’000 years the concentration of atmospheric CO2 and its increment have never been as high as they are today. The global increase of temperature is by now indisputable. Climatic extremes such as cold snaps and heat waves are occurring more frequently and are causing catastrophic droughts or heavy rain fall events with severe consequences for terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Furthermore, ecosystems and landscapes as well as their services relevant to society, have been profoundly altered by the change of economic and social conditions. The effects of these global changes vary regionally and locally. Mountain regions are among the most strongly affected. Alpine regions are characterized by a small-scale structuredness and extreme living conditions which lead to a high vulnerability to disturbance. The specifications of the alpine life zone create a high biodiversity but on the other hand also cause a slow regeneration of organisms and ecosystems. Therefore, the research center 'Ecology of the Alpine Region' aims to generate high-quality scientific knowledge about mountain ecosystems but also on the manifold interactions between man and environment and the combined effects of land use and global change. Investigated ecosystems with their organisms and populations, range from the summit region to mountain lakes and rivers and from the glacier foreland and the forest line to anthropogenically used areas. Most of our research sites are integrated in the LTSER (long-term socio-ecological research) platform ‘Tyrolean Alps’. Additional comparative research is conducted in arctic systems, in the Andes and the Himalaya. Methodically, we combine field and laboratory experiments with spatial and temporal modelling. Intensive networking between the scientists involved in the research center promotes collaboration among the disciplines, fosters true interdisciplinary research and creates substantial added value.

 Interview with Ulrike Tappeiner (Video)

Affiliated Organisational Units

Homepage of the Research Center

http://www.uibk.ac.at/alpineecology/