Genious Web

Unit of Population Genetics and Provenance Research


2012-2015: DouglAS - Chances and risks of Douglas fir in Austria: utilizing the intraspecific variation in climate response for successful plantations - funded by ACRP ⿿ Klimafond (Project leader)

Planting of alternative and also non-native tree species or different provenances better adapted or having a higher potential for adaptation to expected climate conditions has been discussed as an important silvicultural measure to adapt forests to climate change. From the various exotic tree species that are currently considered as alternatives to migitate climate change effects, Douglas fir is considered as one of the most promising species in Austria and else-where. According to earlier experiences Douglas fir shows superior productivity, low risks for storm damage and high wood quality. Particularly it grows well within the warm and dry pannonic east of Austria where currently most native conifers are considered as high risk species or unsuitable. Provenance recommendation for Douglas fir ⿿ as drawn from more than 60 trial within the last 40 years by the BFW - strongly on site conditions of current forest plantations which are located mainly in the east of Austria. For changing climatic conditions, these recommendations will not be sufficient, because the plantation area will be extended also to western and more mountainous areas of Austria and strong shifts in temperature and precipitation are expected in the current cultivation area, suggesting also changes in the provenance selection. In the present project, we aim at a better understanding of the intraspecific variation in climate response of Douglas fir in order to define and understand the economic and ecological role of the exotic Douglas fir in Austria⿿s climate adaptation strategy.


2011-2014: Softwood for the future – analysis of species and provenance specific sensitivity to drought periods of coniferous trees - funded by the FWF (Project partner)

Softwood for the future is a joint project with the Dendrolab (Projektleader Dr. Michael Grabner) of BOKu University. In the project we aim to assess the tree response to past drought events by ring width and x-ray densitometric measurements. In particular, we are interested in the drought–response of the economically important conifer species Norway spruce, European larch, Silver fir, and Douglas fir. Intra-specific variation of drought resistance will be analyzed. The question, if tree breeding can use this variation to adapt tree population to future climates will be answered. The dendroclimatological analysis will be carried out on trees from various provenance experiments, e.g. experiments where trees with different seed origin were planted. These experiments are located within the eastern part of Austria, namely, the forest growth region 8.1 (Pannonic low- and hill lands), which is characterized by high temperatures and low precipitation and where severe drought periods have already been observed in the past. Learning from how the different species and provenances reacted to drought periods of the past two decades will help us to understand the species’ climatic limits and to develop adaptation options for vital forests under future climate.


2011-2013: AdaptTree - Adapting forest tree species to future climates – understanding the role of epigenetic variation on climate response of seedlings - funded by ACRP – Klimafond (Project leader)

The adaptability of trees to a changing climate depends on the genetic variation of the respective trees and the epigenetic pattern of those genes responsible for adaptation, i.e. on whether genes are switched on or off. Today, it has been evidently shown, that many traits responsible for adaptation to climate are controlled by epigenetic mechanisms, mainly through the environmental impact during pollination and seed maturation. Here, we aim to test for the effects of weather conditions during pollination and seed maturation on the performance of seedlings from open-pollinated seed orchards and seed stands. Extreme environmental conditions that were found in different seed years represent the environmental trigger. A nursery test will be used to predict the impact of weather conditions on adaptation and to develop adaptation measures for forest seed production and nursery management.


2009-2012: MANFRED - Management strategies to adapt Alpine Space forests to climate change risks - funded by the Interreg Alpine Space Programm (Project partner)

MANFRED - "Management strategies to adapt Alpine Space forests to climate change risks" is a project collaboration within the framework of the INTERREG Programme Alpine space. The general aim of this project is to develop adaptive management guidelines of forest ecosystems in changing climate with respect to a balance of ecological, social and economic factors.

The aim of the genetic part within this project is to establish a provenance plot network of all forest genetic trials in the Alpine space. For this network we will exchange data with the other participating organisations in Switzerland, Germany and Slovenia and compile them within single databases. A metaanalysis of these data should allow us to derive provenance specific climate response functions and to estimate the genetic variation in climate response. Finally, we will use the we will the derived response functions for projections to future climates and develop guidelines for seed provenance transfer.


2009-2010: Climate- Growth response of spruce population within the alpine space - an option for adaptation for the Austrian forest branch - funded by StartClim (Project leader)

Forests play an essential role in preserving landscape, water and soil and maintain regional biodiversity also under changing climatic conditions. Tree species, which strongly shape particular forest ecosystems, are directly affected because they cannot evolve fast enough to keep up with the velocity of climate change (Savolainen et al. 2007). However, the natural distribution of most tree species covers big parts of Europe and therefore tree species possess a huge intraspecific tolerance towards the various climatic conditions throughout their range. Based on provenance tests, this intraspecific variation has long been used in forest management to improve the productivity and quality of forest plantings. Moreover, the intraspecific variation in climate response can be used to adapt current forests to the future climate conditions without disturbing ecosystem functions. In this project we investigate the climate response of Norway spruce (Picea abies) based upon results from a comprehensive Austrian provenance test series with 540 proveniences planted on 44 test plots. Data of these tests have been compiled in a database together with climate data of all provenance regions. Climate response and climate transfer functions were calculated, in order to allow the identification of provenances, which have the highest survival and growth potential under the future climate scenarios. These functions can be used to assess the future potential of provenances under climate change scenarios and allow better estimations of potential transfer of provenances between provenance regions and altitudinal levels.


2009-2010: Development of an online information system for seed provenance recommendations ( - funded by the chamber of agriculture Austria (Project leader)


2008-2010: Meteorological impacts of pollen emission and spread - funded by the FWF (Project leader)

Emission and spread of tree pollen are important processes, because pollen dispersal is a crucial process in the life cycle of the predominantly wind-pollinated trees in temperate forests. Thus, pollen dispersal provides reproduction and gene flow, and contributes significantly to the genetic diversity within and among populations. In the present project we aim at investigating and highlighting the meteorological factors causing local pollen emission and transport in a typical Central European forest of mixed deciduous and coniferous trees, and the development of a functional model for pollen emission. We conduct measurements of pollen concentrations of spring flowering trees and meteorological conditions in a high-temporal resolution at three levels on a 30 m high tower within a 20 m high forest canopy in the "Lehrforst Rosalia" in Eastern Austria. The instrumentation consists of a special adapted pollen collector with three sampling units, which sample pollen from all directions in the same quantity, and which allow the recording of pollen concentration in a high temporal resolution. The meteorological equipment consists of three ultrasonic anemometers and conventional temperature, humidity and radiation sensors, which measure meteorological data in the same heights as the pollen concentrations (above the canopy, within the canopy, and on the forest ground). In addition to the field campagn, pollen transport will be modelled with a Lagrangian particle model based on trajectories determined from a diagnostic wind field model fed also by the meteorological data of surrounding stations. The project should improve knowledge on: a) pollen emission with respect to different tree species common in Central Europe, b) the meteorological parameters favouring pollen emission, c) the horizontal and vertical pollen transport within and above the forest canopy, and d) the ability of a Lagrangian particle model to correctly estimate ambient pollen concentrations. The expected better understanding of pollen emission and spread of typical European forest tree species will help to develop a new generation of pollen dispersal models. Such models can be important tools for forest research and landscape management, for forecasting and monitoring of pollen allergy symptoms, and for a risk evaluation and monitoring of genetically modified trees.

2007-2010: Establishment of a European Information System on Forest Genetic Ressources - EUFGIS - funded by the EC (Project partner)


2006-2010: Provenance trial with sessile and pedunculate oak from Austria and adjacent countries - funded by the BMLFUW and the states of Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Burgenland (Project leader)


2007-2010: Development of conservation strategies for the sustainable use of Prunus africana to improve the livelihood of small-scale farmers. - Partner von Bioversity International - funded by the CGIAR (Project cooperator)



2005-2009: Identification of silver fir individuals resistant to "Dreyfusia nordmannianae" - funded by the ÖBf (Project leader)