Martin Helmuth Lechleitner

Martin Lechleitner

University of Salzburg

Department of Ecology and Evolution

Hellbrunnerstrasse 34

5020 Salzburg

Austria

Email: martin.lechleitner@sbg.ac.at

Tel.: +43 662 8044-5517

 

About myself:

I was born and raised in Tyrol, Austria, in the central western alps surrounded by dozens of mountain peaks. Thus it was only natural for me to learn more about them. I completed my masters in zoology and botany at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. My research interests lie in alpine ecology especially in flower and pollinator ecology and on how different layers of biodiversity are influenced by climate change. I gathered experience with different methods of field ecology in various regions of the Swiss and Austrian Alps before I started my PhD in Salzurg.

About my PhD-project:

Elevational gradients provide long term and large-scale surrogates for ecological consequences of climate change. The functional diversity of plant communities, describing the relative abundance and variability of traits, is important for ecosystem stability and crucial to maintain species diversity in higher trophic levels. Most studies on functional plant diversity focused on vegetative traits, neglecting flower traits and pollination. The major aim of this project is it to close this knowledge gap.

We chose eight study sites along the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse ranging from 1100 m a.s.l. to 2600 m a.s.l. and phenotyped each entomophilous plant species encountered in the sites. Species were phenotyped by morphological, physical, and chemical traits: 12 morphological flower traits (e.g. flower diameter, petal length, nectar depth), 12 morphological vegetative traits (e.g. leaf dimension, leaf fresh/dry weight), Light reflection of leaves and flowers (i.e. color) and Floral scent emissions. Additionally, we recorded insect-flower-interactions on several sunny days per site.

Our hypotheses are: 1) Functional responses of plant communities to environmental gradients and climate warming indicate both plants’ adaptations to the environment and reveal consequences on ecosystem functions. 2) Floral traits respond differently to elevational and temporal gradients than vegetative traits. 3) The diversity of flower visitors is positively correlated to the functional diversity of flowers.

 

Supervisor:

Robert R. Junker, University of Salzburg, Department of Ecology and Evolution

 

Publications

Wagner J., Lechleitner M. & Hosp D. (2016): Pollen limitation is not the rule in nival plants: A study from the European Central Alps. American Journal of Botany 103(3): 1-13.