Ines Lucia Obermair


My PhD-project focuses on the philosophy of climate change. I am interested in the role of ethical values in climate science and in the question how research results are presented in the IPCC report.

Supervisors: Prof. Charlotte Werndl, Ass.-Prof. Lena Zuchowski

Flavia Domizia Nardi


Flavia Domizia Nardi
University of Salzburg
Department of Ecology and Evolution
Hellbrunnerstr. 34
5020 Salzburg

Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards, and Landscape
Department of Genetics
Seckendorff-Gudent-Weg 8
1130 Vienna



My PhD project

Andreas Tribsch, University of Salzburg, Department of Ecology and Evolution
Christoph Dobeš, Federal Research and Training Centre for Forests, Natural Hazards, and Landscape, Department of Genetics

The topic
Potentilla puberula Krašan (Rosaceae) is an Alpic species in which five different cytotypes (tetra- to octoploids) are present. The ploidy level is associated with the reproductive mode: while tetraploids are usually sexual, the other cytotypes are mostly apomictic, i.e. they asexually reproduce via seeds.
In the Western Alps, all ploidy levels can be found, but the sexual tetraploids show a tendece in forming populations isolated from the other cytotypes, suggesting an influence of factors such as ecological preferences, different migration history or interactions between cytotypes at the population level.
The aim of the project is to disentangle the effects of these factors, focussing in particular on understanding the genetic relations between cytotypes and/or reproductive modes and reconstructing the phylogeographic pattern underlying the current distribution of this species in the Western Alps.

Project partners
This PhD topic is part of a project funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) which is the result of the collaboration between Christoph Dobeš (Federal Reserach Center for Forests), Karl Hülber (University of Vienna) and Andreas Tribsch (University of Salzburg). Henar Alonso-Marcos (Federal Research Center for Forests; University of Vienna) is developing her PhD as well, investigating possible ecological and reproductive relations between sexual tetraploids and apomictic pentaploids occurring at the same population.

Martin Helmuth Lechleitner

Martin Lechleitner

University of Salzburg

Department of Ecology and Evolution

Hellbrunnerstrasse 34

5020 Salzburg



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.



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



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.

Ingo Hartmeyer

I am a member of the AG Geomorphologie’ (Research Group Geomorphology) at the department of Geography and Geology. I am in charge of the long-term research project MOREXPERT, which started in 2010.

Within MOREXPERT my colleagues and me established an extensive monitoring site in the summit region of the Kitzsteinhorn (3.203 m) focusing on permafrost dynamics and rockfall activity. In my PhD I am using data collected at the Kitzsteinhorn (borehole temperature data, terrestrial laserscans) to examine spatio-temporal patterns of rockfall and their underlying causes. I am particularly interested in investigating the influence that retreating and thinning glaciers have on their adjacent headwalls. The acquired long-term data series from the Kitzsteinhorn represent a prime opportunity to quantitatively demonstrate the consequences of climate change for high-mountain environments. If you are interested in learning more about high-mountain research at the Kitzsteinhorn including publications, press releases and tv documentaries, I invite you to visit:

In addition to my employment at the University of Salzburg I currently work for the ‘alpS – Centre of Climate Change Adaptation‘ (Innsbruck) and Georesearch (Salzburg).


PhD Thesis
Title: Spatial patterns of rockfall in permafrost-affected cirque walls affected by glacial thinning, Kitzsteinhorn, Austria
Supervisors: Univ.-Prof. Lothar Schrott (University of Bonn), Ass.-Prof. Jan-Christoph Otto (University of Salzburg), Franz Neubauer (University of Salzburg)
Project Partners: Gletscherbahnen Kaprun AG, Geoconsult, Geodata, Geolog2000, ZAMG, University of Bonn, Technical University of Munich


The Kitzsteinhorn (3.203 m), located in the Hohe Tauern Range, home of an extensive surface and subsurface monitoring focusing on permafrost dynamics and rockfall activity

One of the investigated cirques in the summit region of the Kitzsteinhorn – occupied by the rapidly retreating and thinning Schmiedingerkees glacier

Drilling of a 30 m deep bedrock borehole at the Kitzsteinhorn west face.


Terrestrial laserscanning to detect rockfall release zones

Marc Giménez Maranges


Marc Giménez Maranges

Department of Geography and Geology
University of Salzburg
Hellbrunnerstr. 34
5020 Salzburg
Austria, Europe




Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jürgen Breuste, head of the Research Group Urban and Landscape Ecology, University of Salzburg.

Ass.-Prof. Dr. Angela Hof, Research Group Urban and Landscape Ecology, University of Salzburg.


PhD project – sensitive, adaptive and regenerative management of flooding risk in urban areas:

Research topic and background: Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS)
 * Conventional flooding risk management practices

Currently, flood risk management in most European urban areas is characterised by underground drainage systems, enabling fast conveyance of stormwater out of the city to receiving waterways. While this paradigm has become mainstream, its underlying principles, together with the high degree of imperviousness of urban surfaces, translate into a severe shift in surface runoff patterns, as imperviousness and fast conveyance entail an intense reduction in infiltration and evapotranspiration, and subsequently an increase of flooding risk.

 * SUDS as an alternative

In order to respond to these shortcomings, alternative approaches based on decentralised solutions have been proposed and deployed to handle the volume and rate of stormwater. These systems, entitled, inter alia, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS), are constituted by above ground soft structures, where natural processes are mimicked (infiltration, evapotranspiration, filtration, retention, reuse) in order to address flood risk.

 * Research gaps

The development and adoption of such systems has led to the emergence of a vast body of research especially addressing their performance in terms of flood risk mitigation. Nevertheless, while a lot of endeavour has been undertaken in the modelling of overland flow, much less emphasis has been put on issues of power, actors’ agency and institutional work related to their implementation, as well as on the potential for radical social and technical change towards a more sustainable (e.g. sensitive, regenerative and adaptive) handling of flooding risk in urban areas that their adoption offers. By means of this research project, it is intended to respond to these research gaps.


Research targets
 * Overall aim of the project

The overall aim of the project is: to develop a model and subsequently assess the existing interplay among: a) flooding risk alleviation infrastructure, b) institutional work, c) relations of power and d) actors’ roles, during transition processes from conventional flood risk management practices to a sensitive, adaptive and regenerative flood risk management paradigm. To that end, 2 typologies of urban areas (district level) are evaluated with the model created: a) eco-quarters where SUDS have been deployed on the one hand, and b) conventional analogous quarters where traditional approaches to tackle floods (i.e. fast underground conveyance systems) are prevalent on the other hand. This approach is expected to enable us to gain an insight on the potential for radical change (both social and technical) offered by creating work on SUDS, hence on the degree of social and technical sustainability transitioning that such technical innovation and all related institutional work, power issues, etc. make possible.

 * Sub-targets

Moreover, 2 distinct socio-ecological contexts, where dissimilar challenges and opportunities are faced concerning floods (i.e. the urban area of Linz (Austria) on the one hand, and the urban area of Toulouse (Southern France) on the other hand), are analysed. This methodological scheme makes possible to respond to 2 additional sub-targets:

– To discern and generate hypotheses on possible general guidelines among distinct socio-ecological contexts regarding the issues aforementioned (i.e. existing interplay among flooding risk alleviation infrastructure, institutional work, relations of power and actors’ roles, during transitions in the flooding risk management socio-technical system; and potential for radical change).

– To draw hypotheses on the way how an enabling context for radical to a water sensitive, adaptive and regenerative paradigm, in the actual urban flooding risk management paradigm, can be set up.



SUDS in the Solar City (Linz, Austria)


SUDS in Viala-Est (left) and Coste Rousse (right) (Prades-le-Lez, Southern France)