Treeline research area Stillberg
Research area Stillberg
Photos: U. Wasem (WSL)
The research area
Stillberg at the alpine treeline has been established in the 1950s in a
collaboration between the WSL-sites Birmensdorf and Davos (“Gebirgsprogramm”).
The original aim of this research program was to find appropriate methods for
afforestations in potential avalanche starting zones near treeline. Since the
year 1975, the research area Stillberg has been systematically planted with
92’000 trees (Larches, Stone pines, Mountain pines) and provides unique
information about long term effect of different environmental factors for
treeline trees. The experiences from the Stillberg have helped to afforestate
high altitude sites more appropriate. During the last decades the Stillberg
research area has also increasingly served as experimental basis for different
experiments focusing on questions about climate change effects on treelines.
Outline of some of
the recent research activities on Stillberg:
- Long term monitoring Stillberg (SLF / WSL)
From 1975 until 1995,
an intensive monitoring of the planted trees have been conducted and repeated
in 2005. A comparison of different stages of the afforestation allows to study
and disentangle the influences of different environmental factors and how they
change in space and time.
- Alpine treelines in a CO2-rich and warmer world (WSL/SLF and other partners)
The response of
plants and soils near treeline on future climate scenarios is simulated by
exposing them to higher CO2-concentrations (+200 ppm) and warmer soil
- Experiments on nutrition limitations near treeline (SLF)
In this fertilization
experiment, we investigate if nutritions play a role as limiting factors for
trees and dwarf shrubs near treeline, if their growth is increased and/or if
they are more susceptible to other stressors.
- Plant responses to winter climate change? (SLF)
In order to simulate
effects of climate change on plants, we manipulated and artificially shortened
the duration of the snow cover. We then investigated responses of this
treatment on live cycles, growth and reproduction of plants. These experiments
have been conducted on Stillberg and in tundra ecosystems in Alaska.
of exotic species (WSL)
Between 1984 and 1985, exotic treeline species from other mountain ranges have
been planted on Stillberg (and 3 other sites in Switzerland). This allows the
comparison of their growth and survival with autochthon treeline species.