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Mountain ecosystems

Mountain ecosystems are characterised by harsh environmental conditions and a short growing season to which alpine plants and animals respond with a high degree of adaptation. However, they are susceptible to additional impacts such as land use- and climate change.

Kunstschneepiste

Land use and climatic change

For centuries, the Alps have been subject to intense changes in land use. Mountain ecosystems are influences by artificial snow production, the rise in settlements as well as climatic change. We investigate these consequences by means of field investigations, spatial modelling and risk analysis. >> more

Schutzwald

Mountain forest

About one third of the Swiss Alps is covered by forest. Forest is considered to be an effective and cost-efficient avalanche protection and is the most important protection measure by surface area. However, this biological protection is determined by forest structure, which differs depending on climatic and topographical conditions as well as on land-use and can change considerably over time. >> more

Baumgrenze

Tree line

Tree line ecosystems are important for various ecosystem goods and services. In recent decades numerous research activities contributed to the current unique knowledge as a basis for research on ecological and practical questions on the alpine tree line. >> more

Pflanzen gegen Erosion

Plants, fungi and soil stability

Plants contribute considerably to the re-establishment and stabilisation of soil affected by landslides and erosion processes. Appropriate growth rates and the development of a diverse and stable vegetation cover are required for plants to stabilise soil. We investigate how these requirements are best met by the application of symbiotic fungi (mycorrhiza). >> more

Biodiversität

Alpine plant ecology

Alpine ecosystems are hotspots of biodiversity and are susceptible to climatic change and land use. We analyse the causes and consequences of changes in biodiversity and in the function of mountain ecosystems. >> more