Colorado mountains
From Long-Term Data to Understanding: Toward a Predictive Ecology
2015 LTER ASM Estes Park, CO - August 30 - September 2, 2015

Long Term Ecological Research site Matsch/Mazia (Italian Alps): An interdisciplinary open-air laboratory between apple orchards and glaciers

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Poster Number: 
Presenter/Primary Author: 
Georg Niedrist
Bertoldi, Giacomo
Bottarin, Roberta
Fontana, Veronika
Tasser, Erich
Tappeiner, Ulrike

Trans-disciplinary approaches are essential to understand ecological processes in mountain ecosystems under rapid climate and land-use changes. In 2008 a new Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site has been established in Matsch/Mazia (Central European Alps, ITA) covering all representative mountain ecosystems from intensive agriculture (apple orchards, intensively used grasslands) to forests and finally, to unproductive and glaciered areas (900-3700m The site is particularly interesting as it is relatively dry (ca. 500mm at 1500m a.s.l.) and therefore appropriate to study potential future climate conditions.

Measurement infrastructure consists of a micro-meteorological network of 20 stations distributed over 100kmĀ² along elevation gradients and among all dominant land-use types. Most important parameters monitored are related to the 1) Hydrological cycle (soil moisture, soil water potential, run off, evapotranspiration, solid/liquid precipitation)  2) Energy balance (short/longwave net radiation, Evapotranspiration, soil heat flux) and 3) Biodiversity (plant and landscape diversity, soil macro- and mesofauna, macrozoobenthos).

Beside the long-term monitoring purpose, data are used also to interpret outcomes from manipulative experiments (transplantation and drought experiments), for validation of satellite campaigns and products (SMAP mission of NASA) as well as for parametrization and validation of hydrologic models.

Finally, it is planned to focus also on human activities as agriculture or tourism by including social sciences. The overall idea behind is to better understand the landscape as a human shaped mosaic of interlinked ecosystems.