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Plant Ecology




The research interests of this group are oriented at answering broad questions in the field of plant species and community response to climatic and land use changes.  The analyses are carried out in different environmental conditions, from the Po Plain to the higher elevations in the Alps, often working along the altitudinal gradient, analyzing the response of plants in space and time. 

Research activities and projects

1. Alpines species phenology and ecosystem functioning (Alcotra EU Project PHENOALP 2008-2013): researches aim at pointing out the environmental factors driving the development of seasonal vegetative and reproductive processes, and are based on phenological monitoring of single species or communities. Studies are located in the fields of biometeorology and biogeochemistry related to carbon cycle in terrestrial ecosystems and interactions between climate and biosphere.  

a) Phenological models have been used to highlight the vegetative response of  larch  to spring warming: budburst has been monitored by field sampling as well as by digital images and by remote sensing on wide areas.

b) Vegetative phenology of a subalpine grassland is analyzed monitoring biomass production, Leaf Area Index (LAI), greenness by visual estimation, greenness by repeated digital images and webcam images  along the growing seasons.  Interannual variation of the seasonal trajectories is correlated to environmental factors (snowmelt date,  temperature and light) to elucidate the driving forces and their effects on ecosystem functioning. Carbon balance during the growing season and the whole year is analyzed comparing the above mentioned ancillary indices, eddy covariance and NDVI data. More recently also data on biomass decomposition are monitored as well as soil properties in microenvironmental conditions.

2. Reproductive biology  hazelnut: phenology, airborne pollen concentration and viability (in collaboration with Ferrero S.p.a) 

Hazelnut fruits are more and more requested by the market but their production in the world is still not sufficient to cover the requests. Possibilities of cultivating this species in areas outside its primary range have to be tested but the knowledge of the reproductive and vegetative biology are still inadequate to provide a clear feature of the ecological needs of the species and of its cultivars. We are working on the male and female reproductive phenology looking for the climatic drivers that influence flowering and 
pollen viability in order to increase the fruit production and have the possibility to establish which areas are suitable for cultivation. Maintaining pollen viability can be useful to provide  pollen for artificial pollination in young cultivations or where pollen is not sufficient.  Data obtained on reproductive and vegetative phenology are also used in productivity models.

3. Aerobiological pollen monitoring in the city of Torino

Airborne pollen concentration has been monitored continously in Torino since 1990 and data have been used in analyzing effects of climate change on flowering phenology. Data are used for the use of allergologists and allergic patients and also as tools to forecast the flowering responce of plant species to temperature and in particular to the sum of chilling and forcing units in parallel, alternate and sequential modeling. 

Last update: 04/07/2018 12:29
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