Financing: Autonome Provinz Bozen – Südtirol, Abteilung Bildungsförderung, Universität und Forschung
Contact: Erich Tasser
The cultural landscape of South Tyrol, which was shaped in thousands of years of agricultural land use, has more than an aesthetical value: it provide essential ecological services as soil conservation, preservation of biodiversity, and provision of clean water for society. An important but commonly unknown effect of agricultural land use in mountain areas is an increase of usable water in lower areas because of lower evapotranspiration rates of meadows and pastures compared to forests and dwarf-shrub communities. Less water is used by plants and a higher percentage of precipitation water infiltrates into the soil and increases the volume of usable water in lower areas. This effect should be of special interest for the southern and western parts of South Tyrol where water is locally scarce already and the reduction of precipitation due to climate change will have a great impact. However this particular ecological service of agriculture is only insufficiently investigated yet.
The aim of ClimAgro is to quantify essential components of ecosystem water balance (precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, infiltration, and percolation) of differently managed meadows and pastures in an innovative, spatial approach. By transplanting vegetation monoliths from higher to lower altitudes and from the humid inner-alpine Stubai Valley to the more arid Matsch Valley we will additionally analyse the effects of changing temperature and precipitation regimes. ClimAgro will provide also recommendations for a sustainable, locally adapted management of meadows and pastures in consideration of anticipated structural changes in agriculture while taking into account a potential climate change.
Faculty of Science and Technology of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
Institut für Ökologie, Universität Innsbruck