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Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2018-01-01 - 2019-12-31

Plant leaves are key components to the global carbon and water cycle, as virtually all terrestrial carbon going from the atmosphere to terrestrial ecosystems and ~70% of all terrestrial transpired water passes through them. Research on carbon and water fluxes at the leaf has primarily focused on how the pores on the surface of the leaf (stomata) and the cells where photosynthesis occurs (mesophyll cells) respond to changes in their environmental conditions. However, there is a space within the leaf that has often been overlooked or ignored when studying photosynthesis as this air-filled cavity barely limits the movement of CO2 in crop plants, which have most often been studied. However, this airspace was shown to limit the movement of CO2 for certain leaf types found over a wide range of environments around the globe. Further, leaves of the flowering plants (angiosperms), the most diversified and recent plant group in terms of evolution, have improved stomatal control and water transport properties compared to their ancestors like ferns and gymnosperms such as conifers. Little is known on the diversity of the leaf airspace properties and whether or not the angiosperms have evolved improved traits similar to those related to water transport. The proposed project “Functional characterisation of plant leaf airspaces in 3D” will try to answer that question. The research, building from state-of-the-art three-dimensional leaf imaging through high resolution X-ray computed tomography, will allow to present the leaf airspace properties in their true volumetric nature. In combination with an in-depth analysis of photosynthesis and transpiration, the 3D representation of the leaf will make it possible to accurately describe the importance of the air space in carbon and water transport processes within the leaf, as well as the coordination of airspace properties with other related leaf traits. For this functional characterization, modelling at a small scale will be done using finite element analysis, a tool mostly used in engineering, that will accurately represent the physical processes within the diverse 3D leaf anatomies acquired. This modelling will be then used to build a leaf model that treats a canopy as a single big leaf in order to quantify the role of the leaf airspace in the plant carbon and water relations. This new knowledge is key to fully understand how leaves evolved, adapted, and optimized carbon acquisition and water loss in response to a changing environment, providing important information to reconstruct fossil leaf properties as well as to improve the prediction of plants responses to future climate.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2017-01-01 - 2018-04-30

Microsatellite genotyping European (Erinaceus europaeus) and White-breasted hedgehogs (E. roumanicus) in next-generation sequencing data
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2017-01-01 - 2019-06-30

BINATS 2 (BIodiversity–NATure–Safety) aims at a further survey of plant and animal diversity in the Austrian agrarian regions (fields and accompanying structures). On altogether 100 test areas which were implemented in BINATS 1, biodiversity was recorded using the indicators habitat structure, vascular plants, grasshoppers, and butterflies in 2007 (50 test areas in maize cultivation areas) and in 2008 (50 in OSR cultivation areas). A monitoring method was developed in charge of the applicant and her at that time collaborating project team (PASCHER et al. 2009a; 2010a,b; 2011a) and implemented. Now, after a period of ten years biodiversity survey should be repeated in 2017 (maize areas) and 2018 (OSR areas). In contrast to the data set of BINATS 1 which enabled a snapshot of species inventory of plants and selected animal groups, BINATS 2 additionally is able to detect and measure biodiversity trends due to the updated data set. Moreover, wild bees are incorporated into the BINATS monitoring design as an additional indicator. Survey of all indicators is carried out following the methodology described in the BINATS filed guide of PASCHER et al. 2009a & 2010b: Module 1: Habitat structures: singular survey Module 2: Vascular plants: two times survey: spring aspect and late summer aspect Module 3: Grasshoppers: singular survey Module 4: Butterflies: singular survey Module 5: Wild bees: incorporation into the BINATS monitoring design: singular survey of all 100 BINATS test areas in spring; additional triple survey of 30 hot spots of the 100 BINATS test areas during the summer Module 6: Data analyses: -Changes in habitat structures -Changes in species number and abundance of BINATS 1 indicators -Biodiversity trends in the Austrian agrarian regions -For the first time a description of the situation of wild bees in the Austrian agrarian region (regional occurrence, species diversity, abundance) -Pointing out habitat structures which are relevant for the wild bee fauna in agrarian regions and their occurrence in different agricultural land use systems -Survey of the occurrence of neophytes and changes in their abundance within a period of ten years (e.g. Ambrosia artemisiifolia) -Calculation of “extinction debt” and development of measures to save declining species in agrarian regions -BINATS 2 provides the basis for a potential detection of specific effects of genetically modified organisms (GMO) because general agrarian trends over several years are documented for the first time -Identification of ecologically sensible areas in connection with GMO in agrarian regions -Documentation of land use change -Environmental trends -Climate change determined with species occurrence considering average annual (monthly) temperatures and precipitations -Visualising effects of the already finished ÖPUL-programs -If already traceable, success control of single selected measures of the recently implemented Agrar‐Umweltförderprogramm

Supervised Theses and Dissertations