Welcome to Alpine Treelines Online
Please use the buttons above and the navigation bar to access the treeline map and other treeline-relevant information.
This website is still under development. To be kept up-to-date about important developments about this website, please sign up for the newsletter.


Treelines at IMC 2022

"Alpine Treeline Ecotones under Global Change" session at the International Mountain Conference 2022 in Innsbruck

By: Maaike Bader, September 20, 2022

Treeline excursion at Mt. Patscherkofel 2022

Treeline excursion 2022 to Mt. Patscherkofel. Photo taken at the same location as in 2019 , looking west down into the Inn valley west of Innsbruck. A few more clouds than in 2019, but after expecting lots of rain, we particularly enjoyed the mostly sunny day and great views. (Photo by Michael Maroschek)

A focus session on “Alpine Treeline Ecotones under Global Change“ took place at the International Mountain Conference 2022 (Innsbruck, 11-15 Sep 2022).

Being one of the largest focus sessions at the conference, it presented 18 posters with 3-minute flash talks and seven longer talks – the titles and abstracts of which can be downloaded here.

IMC2022 treeline session summary 1

IMC2022 treeline session summary 2

The workshop was summarized in the Synthesis Workshop "Mountain Ecosystems under Global Change" as an overview of the methods, themes and drivers presented in the session (see slides to the left here). In conclusion, the research community is certainly making progress in developing methods (e.g. in drone-based remote sensing, spatial analysis, process-based models, etc.) and in improving our understanding of the ecology and dynamics of alpine treeline ecotones, but at the same time large unknowns remain, in particular about underground processes, tree regeneration dynamics, biotic interactions, and the effects of changes in snow cover, to name a few important themes. We are looking forward to hearing about further progress at the next International Mountain Conference (IMC 2025, Innsbruck, 14-18 Sept 2025) - save the date!

Back to top

MRI Synthesis workshop 2022

"Mapping mountain vegetation using very-high-resolution remote sensing: Challenges in global data access and image classification"

Treeline workshop group picture

Treeline very-high-resolution remote sensing workshop, 2022 in Kochel am See. (Photo: Nishtha Prakash)

A synthesis workshop on very-high resolution remote sensing of treeline ecotones and alpine vegetation, organised by the University OF Marburg, Germany, and the University of Turku, Finland, with the support of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) took place from July 18 - 22 2022 in Kochel am See, at the northern edge of the Alps in Germany. It had a partially hybrid format to enable online access to the presentations and some of the discussions.

Key words: alpine vegetation, treeline ecotone, fine-scale vegetation mapping, remote sensing, machine learning, pattern analysis

Mountain plant populations are already observed to shift uphill due to climate change, with resulting changes in vegetation composition and functionality. In addition, local shifts to suitable microsites, functioning as local refugia, may reduce the overall risk of extinction for mountain species. Characterizing fine-scale spatial patterns in vegetation cover, emerging through microsite preferences and spatial ecological processes, is therefore important to understand alpine vegetation dynamics and to predict the future of the alpine zone. To characterize and monitor such patterns, very-high-resolution remote sensing (i.e. with spatial resolutions < 0.5 m) offers great promise, in particular in the fine-grained alpine vegetation above the closed forest. However, two big challenges need to be overcome before this potentially fantastic resource can be applied to map vegetation cover and to monitor change in mountains globally: the availability of and access to these data, and the analysis of the images in terms of recognizing and delineating vegetation types and, in the case of larger species like shrubs, trees, cushion plants and giant rosettes, individuals.

In this workshop the group addressed these two challenges by discussing the following questions:
1. What very-high-resolution data are available in different mountain areas of the world and how can we help to increase their accessibility?
2. What data sources (e.g. satellite-based vs. drone-based) and methods are most suitable to map small-scale patterns in vegetation cover from the treeline ecotone into the alpine zone? Additionally, in the absence of easily available fine-scale imagery, how can readily available coarser-scale data be used to learn more about the fine details of alpine vegetation patterns?
3. How can treeline researchers collaborate to map vegetation in alpine treeline ecotones in different parts of the world?

The program included presentations and lively discussions, as well as a one-day excursion to the treeline ecotone on the nearby Zugspitze range (highest mountain of Germany). There were 11 on-site participants from five countries (New Zealand, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, and Germany), or eleven countries if counting nationalities. Researchers from eight countries registered to attend the online sessions and contributed with questions and comments for the presenters of the talks. The additional diversity in career stages and research foci assured a rich and enriching workshop. The group will consolidate and share the findings of the workshop as well as further discussion in a research paper.

The organizing team: Nishtha Prakash, Maaike Bader (University of Marburg, Germany), Johanna Toivonen (University of Turku, Finland)

See also the MRI Website

Back to top

Anouncement: another special issue in the journal "Forests"

"Mountain Treelines: Tree Growth and Plant Ecology under Climate Change"

Edited by Sonja Vospernik and Klaus Katzensteiner, submissions possible also past June 2022.
See the MDPI website for more information.

Back to top