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LTER Zöbelboden (Master)

Operator: Environment Agency Austria (EAA)
DEIMS-SDR Database: Zöbelboden
Contact: Thomas Dirnböck, Johannes Kobler, Gisela Pröll and Ika Djukic

Site description

The long-term monitoring and research area of Zöbelboden in the Upper Austria Kalkalpen national park is a part of the Integrated Monitoring Program of the United Nations, in the framework of the “Convention on long-range transboun­dary air pollution”. In a Europe-wide network, ecosystems are investigated using state-of-the-art measurement instruments and standardized methods in order to document the current status, pollution situation and material flows and their alte­ration. In the course of this, material inputs (pollutants and nutrients) are measured in air and precipitation, the impacts and behaviour of these materials in the ecosystem comprehensively assessed and the outputs surveyed in surface water and groundwater. Integrated monitoring enables recognition of causal relationships in ecosystems in circumstances of changing pressures (pollutants, climate change). This provides the basis for predictions and the resulting need for action on environmental strategy. Monitoring is carried out in cooperation with the Upper Austria Kalkalpen national park and the Austrian Forestry Service Research cooperation with university and non-university institutions are an important aspect. In total, more than 100 monitoring and research projects have been and are being carried out at Zöbelboden. LTER Zöbelboden is a European ecological research site in the EU infrastructure project EXPEER and cooperates in diverse projects in the research framework program of the EU. Achieving increased use of infrastructure and long-term data, both at national and international level, is a major goal.

Fields of activity to date have focused strongly on the impact of airborne pollutants on forest ecosystems. The current on-going and future research fields comprise three themes that address contemporary environmental problems:

  • Effects on ecosystems, including biodiversity, of too high levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere,
  • carbon sink function of forests affected by disturbance impact, and
  • Material flows in karstic catchment areas.

LTER Zöbelboden is the best-equipped and investigated forested karst catchment area in Austria. The forest ecosystem represents important sites within the Northern Limestone Alps. Long-term research into karst systems is very rare and should com­prise a significant contribution by Austria to international research, since these areas are both ecologically sensitive and extremely important for drinking water supply.


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  • Forsius, M.; Posch, M.; Holmberg, M.; Vuorenmaa, J.; Kleemola, S.; Augustaitis, A.; Beudert, B.; Bochenek, W.; Clarke, N.; Wit, H.A. de; et al. (2021): Assessing critical load exceedances and ecosystem impacts of anthropogenic nitrogen and sulphur deposition at unmanaged forested catchments in Europe. The Science of the Total Environment 753, 141791, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.141791.

  • Hood-Nowotny, R.; Schmittner, K.; Ziss, E.; Leitner, S.; Watzinger, A.; Gorfer, M.; Djukic, I.; Dirnböck, T. (2021): Functional response of an Austrian forest soil to N addition. Environ. Res. Commun. 3, 25001, doi:10.1088/2515-7620/abe8c7.

  • Pisek, J.; Erb, A.; Korhonen, L.; Biermann, T.; Carrara, A.; Cremonese, E.; Cuntz, M.; Fares, S.; Gerosa, G.; Grünwald, T.; et al. (2021): Retrieval and validation of forest background reflectivity from daily Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) bidirectional reflectance distribution function (BRDF) data across European forests. Biogeosciences 18, 621–635, doi:10.5194/bg-18-621-2021.

  • Staude, I.R., Pereira, H.M., Daskalova, G.N., Bernhardt-Römermann, M., Diekmann, M., Pauli, H., van Calster, H., Vellend, M., Bjorkman, A.D., Brunet, J., et al. (2021): Directional turnover towards larger-ranged plants over time and across habitats. Ecology Letters 2021, doi:10.1111/ele.13937.

  • Dirnböck, T.; Kraus, D.; Grote, R.; Klatt, S.; Kobler, J.; Schindlbacher, A.; Seidl, R.; Thom, D.; Kiese, R. (2020): Substantial understory contribution to the C sink of a European temperate mountain forest landscape. Landscape Ecol 35, 483–499, doi:10.1007/s10980-019-00960-2.

  • Dirnböck, T.; Brielmann, H.; Djukic, I.; Geiger, S.; Hartmann, A.; Humer, F.; Kobler, J.; Kralik, M.; Liu, Y.; Mirtl, M.; et al. (2020): Long- and Short-Term Inorganic Nitrogen Runoff from a Karst Catchment in Austria. Forests 11, 1112, doi:10.3390/f11101112.

  • Leitner, S.; Dirnböck, T.; Kobler, J.; Zechmeister-Boltenstern, S. (2020): Legacy effects of drought on nitrate leaching in a temperate mixed forest on karst. Journal of Environmental Management 262, doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2020.110338.

  • Perring, M.P.; Frenne, P. de; Hertzog, L.R.; Blondeel, H.; Depauw, L.; Maes, S.L.; Wasof, S.; Verbeeck, H.; Verheyen, K. (2020): Increasing liana frequency in temperate European forest understories is driven by ivy. Front. Ecol. Environ. 18, 550–557, doi:10.1002/fee.2266.

  • Staude, I.R.; Waller, D.M.; Bernhardt-Römermann, M.; Bjorkman, A.D.; Brunet, J.; Frenne, P. de; Hédl, R.; Jandt, U.; Lenoir, J.; Máliš, F.; et al. (2020): Replacements of small- by large-ranged species scale up to diversity loss in Europe's temperate forest biome. Nat. Ecol. Evol. 2020, doi:10.1038/s41559-020-1176-8.

  • Zellweger, F.; Frenne, P. de; Lenoir, J.; Vangansbeke, P.; Verheyen, K.; Bernhardt-Römermann, M.; Baeten, L.; Hédl, R.; Berki, I.; Brunet, J.; et al. (2020): Forest microclimate dynamics drive plant responses to warming. Science 368, 772–775, doi:10.1126/science.aba6880.

  • Kobler, J., Zehetgruber, B., Dirnböck, T., Jandl, R., Mirtl, M., Schindlbacher, A., (2019): Effects of aspect and altitude on carbon cycling processes in a temperate mountain forest catchment. Landscape Ecology.

  • Dirnböck, T., Pröll, G., Austnes, K., Beloica, J., Beudert, B., Canullo, R., De Marco, A., Fornasier, M.F., Futter, M., Georgen, K., Grandin, U., Holmberg, M., Lindroos, A.-J., Mirtl, M., Neirynck, J., Pecka, T., Nieminen, T.M., Nordbakken, J.-F., Posch, M., Reinds, G.-J., Rowe, E.C., Salemaa, M., Scheuschner, T., Starlinger, F., Uziębło, A.K., Valinia, S., Weldon, J., Wamelink, W., Forsius, M., (2018): Currently legislated decreases in nitrogen deposition will yield only limited plant species recovery in European forests. Environmental Research Letters 13: 125010,

  • Holmberg, M., Aherne, J., Austnes, K., Beloica, J., De Marco, A., Dirnböck, T., Fornasier, M.F., Goergen, K., Futter, M., Lindroos, A.-J., Krám, P., Neirynck, J., Nieminen, T.M., Pecka, T., Posch, M., Pröll, G., Rowe, E.C., Scheuschner, T., Schlutow, A., Valinia, S., Forsius, M., (2018): Modelling study of soil C, N and pH response to air pollution and climate change using European LTER site observations. Science of The Total Environment 640-641, 387-399.

  • Perring, M.P., Bernhardt-Römermann, M., Baeten, L., Midolo, G., Blondeel, H., Depauw, L., Landuyt, D., Maes, S.L., De Lombaerde, E., Carón, M.M., Vellend, M., Brunet, J., Chudomelová, M., Decocq, G., Diekmann, M., Dirnböck, T., Dörfler, I., Durak, T., De Frenne, P., Gilliam, F.S., Hédl, R., Heinken, T., Hommel, P., Jaroszewicz, B., Kirby, K.J., Kopecký, M., Lenoir, J., Li, D., Máliš, F., Mitchell, F.J.G., Naaf, T., Newman, M., Petřík, P., Reczyńska, K., Schmidt, W., Standovár, T., Świerkosz, K., Van Calster, H., Vild, O., Wagner, E.R., Wulf, M., Verheyen, K., (2018): Global environmental change effects on plant community composition trajectories depend upon management legacies. Global Change Biology 24: 1722-1740.

  • Vuorenmaa, J., Augustaitis, A., Beudert, B., Bochenek, W., Clarke, N., de Wit, H.A., Dirnböck, T., Frey, J., Hakola, H., Kleemola, S., Kobler, J., Krám, P., Lindroos, A.-J., Lundin, L., Löfgren, S., Marchetto, A., Pecka, T., Schulte-Bisping, H., Skotak, K., Srybny, A., Szpikowski, J., Ukonmaanaho, L., Váňa, M., Åkerblom, S., Forsius, M., (2018): Long-term changes (1990–2015) in the atmospheric deposition and runoff water chemistry of sulphate, inorganic nitrogen and acidity for forested catchments in Europe in relation to changes in emissions and hydrometeorological conditions. Science of The Total Environment, 625: 1129-1145.

  • Dirnböck, T., Djukic, I., Kitzler, B., Kobler, J., Mol-Dijkstra, J.P., Posch, M., Reinds, G.J., Schlutow, A., Starlinger, F., Wamelink, G.W.W (2017): Climate and air pollution impacts on habitat suitability of Austrian forest ecosystems. PloS ONE 12(9): e0184194. 0184194.

  • Dirnböck, T., Foldal, C., Djukic, I., Kobler, J., Haas, E., Kiese, R., Kitzler, B (2017): Historic nitrogen deposition determines future climate change effects on nitrogen retention in temperate forests. Climatic Change 144(2): 221-235. doi:10.1007/s10584-017-2024-y.

  • Helm, N., Essl F., Mirtl M., Dirnböck T. (2017): Multiple environmental changes drive forest floor vegetation in a temperate mountain forest. Ecology and Evolution 7(7): 2155–2168.

  • Thom, D., Rammer W., Dirnböck T., Müller J., Kobler J., Katzensteiner K., Helm N., and Seidl R. (2017): The impacts of climate change and disturbance on spatio-temporal trajectories of biodiversity in a temperate forest landscape. Journal of Applied Ecology 54(1): 28-38.

  • Verheyen, K., P. De Frenne, L. Baeten, D. M. Waller, R. Hédl, M. P. Perring, H. Blondeel, J. Brunet, M. Chudomelová, G. Decocq, E. De Lombaerde, L. Depauw, T. Dirnböck, T. Durak, O. Eriksson, F. S. Gilliam, T. Heinken, S. Heinrichs, M. Hermy, B. Jaroszewicz, M. A. Jenkins, S. E. Johnson, K. J. Kirby, M. Kopecký, D. Landuyt, J. Lenoir, D. Li, M. Macek, S. L. Maes, F. Máliš, F. J. G. Mitchell, T. Naaf, G. Peterken, P. Petřík, K. Reczyńska, D. A. Rogers, F. H. Schei, W. Schmidt, T. Standovár, K. Świerkosz, K. Ujházy, H. Van Calster, M. Vellend, O. Vild, K. Woods, M. Wulf, and M. Bernhardt-Römermann (2017): Combining Biodiversity Resurveys across Regions to Advance Global Change Research. BioScience 67:73-83.

  • Vuorenmaa, J., Augustaitis, A., Beudert, B., Clarke, N., de Wit, H.A., Dirnböck, T., Frey, F., Forsius, M., Indriksone, I., Kleemola, S., Kobler, J., Krám, P., Lindroos, A.-J., Lundin, L., Ruoho-Airola, T., Ukonmaanaho, L., Váňa, W (2017): Long-term sulphate and inorganic nitrogen mass balance budgets in European ICP Integrated Monitoring catchments (1990–2012), Ecological Indicators, 76: 15-29,

  • Zehetgruber, B., Kobler, J., Dirnböck, T., Jandl, R., Seidl, R., Schindlbacher, A (2017): Intensive ground vegetation growth mitigates the carbon loss after forest disturbance. Plant and Soil 420 (1-2): 239–252. DOI 10.1007/s11104-017-3384-9.

  • Dirnböck, T., Kobler, J., Kraus, D., Grothe, R. Kiese R. (2016): Impacts of management and climate change on nitrate leaching in a forested karst areas. Journal of Environmental Management 165: 243-252.

  • Hartmann, A., J. Kobler, Kralik, M., Dirnböck, T., Humer, F., Weiler, M. (2016): Model-aided quantification of dissolved carbon and nitrogen release after windthrow disturbance in an Austrian karst system. Biogeosciences 13(1): 159-174.

  • Bernhardt-Römermann, M., Baeten, L., Craven, D., De Frenne, P., Hédl, R., Lenoir, J., Bert, D., Brunet, J., Chudomelová, M., Decocq, G., Dierschke, H., Dirnböck, T., Dörfler, I., Heinken, T., Hermy, M., Hommel, P., Jaroszewicz, B., Keczyński, A., Kelly, D. L., Kirby, K. J., Kopecký, M., Macek, M., Máliš, F., Mirtl, M., Mitchell, F. J.G., Naaf, T., Newman, M., Peterken, G., Petřík, P., Schmidt, W., Standovár, T., Tóth, Z., Calster, H. V., Verstraeten, G., Vladovič, J., Vild, O., Wulf, M. and Verheyen, K. (2015): Drivers of temporal changes in temperate forest plant diversity vary across spatial scales. Global Change Biology, 21: 3726–3737.

  • Hartl-Meier, C., Zang, C., Büntgen, U., Esper, J., Rothe, A., Göttlein, A., Dirnböck, T., & Treydte, K. (2015): Uniform climate sensitivity in tree-ring stable isotopes across species and sites in a mid-latitude temperate forest. Tree Physiology 35: 4–15.

  • Kobler, J., Jandl, R., Mirtl, M., Dirnböck, T., & Schindlbacher, A. (2015): Effects of stand patchiness due to windthrow and bark beetle abatement measures on soil CO2 efflux and net ecosystem productivity of a managed temperate mountain forest. European Journal of Forest Research. DOI 10.1007/s10342-015-0882-2.

  • Dirnböck, T., Grandin, U., Bernhardt-Römermann, M., Beudert, B., Canullo, R., Forsius, M., Grabner, M.-T., Holmberg, M., Kleemola, S., Lundin, L., Mirtl, M., Neumann, M., Pompei, E., Salemaa, M., Starlinger, F., Staszewski, T., Uziębło, A.K. (2014): Forest floor vegetation response to nitrogen deposition in Europe. Global Change Biology 20: 429-440.

  • Hartl-Meier, C., Dittmar, C., Zang, C., & Rothe, A. (2014): Mountain forest growth response to climate change in the Northern Limestone Alps. Trees, 28, 819-829.

  • Hartl-Meier, C., Zang, C., Dittmar, C., Esper, J., Göttlein, A., & Rothe, A. (2014): Vulnerability of Norway spruce to climate change in mountain forests of the European Alps. Climate Research, 60, 119-132.

  • Bringmark, L., Lundin, L., Augustaitis, A., Beudert, B., Dieffenbach-Fries, H., Dirnböck, T., Grabner, M.-T., Hutchins, M., Kram, P., Lyulko, I., Ruoho-Airola, T., & Vana, M. (2013): Trace Metal Budgets for Forested Catchments in Europe - Pb, Cd, Hg, Cu and Zn. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution 224: 1-14.

  • Holmberg, M., Vuorenmaaa, J., Posch, M., Forsius, M., Lundin, L., Kleemola, S., Augustaitis, A., Beudert, B., de Wit, H.A., Dirnböck, T., Evans, C.D., Frey, C.D., Grandin, U., Indriksone, I., Krám, P., Pompei, E., Schulte-Bisping, H., Srybny, A., Vána, M. (2013): Relationship between critical load exceedances and empirical impact indicators at Integrated Monitoring sites across Europe. Ecological Indicators 24: 256–265.

  • Mayer, M., Pfefferkorn-Dellali, V., Türk, R., Dullinger, S., Mirtl, M., Dirnböck, T. (2013): Significant decrease in epiphytic lichen diversity in a remote area in the European Alps, Austria. Basic and Applied Ecology 14: 396-403.

  • Jandl, R., Smidt, S., Mutsch, F., Fürst, A., Zechmeister, H., Bauer, H., Dirnböck, T. (2012): Acidification and Nitrogen Eutrophication of Austrian Forest Soils. Applied and Environmental Soil Science, 2012: 1-9. DOI:10.1155/2012/632602.

  • Seebacher, D., Dirnböck, T., Dullinger, S., Karrer, G. (2012): Small-scale variation of plant traits in a temperate forest understorey in relation to environmental conditions and disturbance. Stapfia 97: 153-168.

  • Hartmann, A., Kralik. M., Humer, F., Lange, J., Weiler, M. (2011): Identification of a karst system’s intrinsic hydrodynamic parameters: upscaling from single springs to the whole aquifer. Environmental Earth Science [DOI 10.1007/s12665-011-1033-9].

  • Jost, G., Dirnböck, T., Grabner, M.-T. & Mirtl, M. (2011): Nitrogen leaching of two forest ecosystems in a Karst watershed. Water Air and Soil Pollution 218: 633–649.

  • Pröll G., Dullinger S., Dirnböck T., Kaiser C. & Richter A. (2011): Effects of nitrogen on tree recruitment in a temperate montane forest as analysed by measured variables and Ellenberg indicator values. Preslia 83(1): 111–127.

  • Römermann, M.B., Gray, A., Vanbergen, A.J., Bergès, L., Bohner, A., Brooker, R.W., De Bruyn, L., De Cinti, B., Dirnböck, T., Grandin, U., Hester, A.J., Kanka, R., Klotz, S., Loucougaray, G., Lundin, L., Matteucci, G., Mézáros, I., Oláh, V. & Preda, E., Prévosto, B., Pykälä, J., Schmidt, W., Taylor, M.E., Vadineanu, A., Waldmann, T. & Stadler, J. (2011): Functional traits and local environment predict vegetation responses to disturbance: a pan-European multi-site experiment. Journal of Ecology 99: 777-787.

  • Diwold, K., Dullinger, S., Dirnböck, T. (2010): Effect of nitrogen availability on forest understorey cover and its consequences for tree regene­ration in the Austrian limestone Alps. Plant Ecology 209: 11­22.

  • Kobler, J., Fitz, J.F., Dirnböck, T., Mirtl, M. (2010): Soil type affects migration pattern of airborne Pb and Cd under a spruce­beech forest of the UN­ECE Integrated Monitoring site Zöbelboden, Austria. Environmental Pollution 158: 849­854.

  • Dirnböck, T., Jost, G., Mirtl, M. (2009): Langfristige Dynamik des Stickstoffaustrages ins Bodenwasser kalkalpiner Wälder. 13. Gumpensteiner Lysimetertagung: Lysimeter – Perspektiven in Forschung und Anwendung, 21 - 22. April 2009, Lehr- und Forschungszentrum für Landwirtschaft Raumberg-Gumpenstein, Arbeitsgruppe Lysimeter, pp 55-58.

  • Dirnböck, T., Mirtl, M. (2009): Integrated monitoring of the effects of airborne nitrogen and sulfur in the Austrian Limestone Alps. Is species diversity a reliable indicator? Mountain Research and Development 29: 153­160.

  • Diwold, K. (2009): Indirekte Effekte der Stickstoffverfügbarkeit auf die Baumverjüngung in den Nördlichen Kalkalpen. Diplomarbeit an der Universität Wien.

  • Pargfrieder, D. (2009): Kleinmaßstäbliche Standortsvariabilität, Störungsregime und funktionelle Eigenschaften von Gefäßpflanzen im Unterwuchs eines montanen Karbonat-Buchenmischwaldes. Diplomarbeit an der Universität Wien.

  • Pröll, G. (2009): Auswirkungen von Stickstoff auf die Baumverjüngung in einem temperaten Bergwald auf Basis von bodenchemischen Daten und Ellenberg-Zeigerwerten. Diplomarbeit an der Universität Wien.

  • Umweltbundesamt (2009): Long-term deposition of trace metals at the Integrated Monitoring site Zöbelboden. Element concentrations and loads between 1994 and 2008. Report 0246, Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Vienna, Austria.

  • Yee, T.W., Dirnböck, T. (2009): Models for analysing species’ presence/absence data at two time points. – Journal of Theoretical Biology 259: 684-694.

  • Christl, M. (2008): Location-aware environmental monitoring for mobile workers. Masterarbeit an der Universität Wien.

  • Hülber, K., Dirnböck, T., Kleinbauer, I., Willner, W., Dullinger, S., Karrer, G., Mirtl, M. (2008): Long­term impacts of nitrogen and sulphur deposition on forest floor vegetation in the Northern limestone Alps, Austria. Applied Vegetation Science 11: 395­404.

  • Niedrée, B. (2008): Kleinräumige Stickstoffverteilung in Böden montaner Karbonatwälder. Diplomarbeit an der Fachhochschule Bingen.

  • Umweltbundesamt (2007): Effects of Nitrogen and Sulphur deposition on forests and forest biodiversity. Austrian Integrated Monitoring Zöbelboden. Report 0077, Umweltbundesamt GmbH, Vienna, Austria.

  • Zechmeister, H.G., Dirnböck, T., Hülber, K., Mirtl, M. (2007): Assessing airborne pollution effects on bryophytes ­ Lessons learned through long­term integrated monitoring in Austria. Environmental Pollution 147: 696­705.

  • Humer, F., Kralik, M., Mirtl, M., Grabner, M.T., (2006): Hydrologic characteristics of the alpine karst massif of the Austrian long term Integrated Monitoring. Pro-ceedings International Conference “All about Karst & Water: Decision Mak-ing in a Sensitive Environment”, 9.-11. 10. 2006, Vienna City Hall Austria, pp. 228-232.

  • Kralik, M., Humer, F., Grath, J., Nurmi-Legat, J., Hanus-Illnar, A., Halas, S., Jelenc, M. (2006): Impact of long distance air pollution on sensitive karst groundwater resources estimated by means of Pb-, S-, O- and Sr-isotopes. En: DURAN, J.J., ANDREO, B. y CARRASCO, F. (eds.). Karst, cambio climático y aguas subterráneas. Publicaciones del Instituto Geológico y Minero de España. Serie: Hydrogeología y Aguas. Subterráneas N.o 18. 311-317, Madrid.

  • Kralik, M., Humer, F., Nurmi-Legat, J., Hanus-Illnar, A., Grabner, M-Th., Halas, S., Jelenc, M. (2006): Impact of transboundary air pollution on sensitive alpine karst water resources quantified by menas of N-, S-, O-, Pb- and Sr-isotopes. All about Karst & Water. Vienna.