WP3: Coarse woody debris

Dr. Paolo Cherubini (WSL, Switzerland) and Prof. Markus Egli (University of Zurich, Switzerland) have the lead of work package 3 (WP3). 

Although the persistence or decay rates of coarse woody debris (CWD) over time and as function of climate is a basic information which is instrumental for understanding the cycle of carbon and nutrients, only very scarce data about this relationship are available. Consequently, the main aim of WP3 is to study the decay mechanisms of CWD (rate, dependence of climate) and its incorporation into the humus of the soil. The main research questions are the following: 

  • How does climate affect coarse woody decay at alpine sites:

  • how do chemical properties of alpine coniferous trees vary as a function of decay?  

  • how are biochemical characteristics influenced by the thermal regime?

  • What time scales are involved in the CWD decay of Picea abies and how do they vary with climate? 

  • How quickly is CWD (Picea abies) integrated into soil organic matter fractions? In which way are the decay products of CWD stabilised?

We focus only on natural forest ecosystems of subalpine sites along an altitudinal gradient (climosequence) by using a biogeochemical (C, N, lignin, cellulose, δ13C, δ15N, nutrients), dendrochronological (tree ring width sequences of deadwood to derive the time since death; cross-dating with a master chronology) and dating (14C; for highly decomposed tree material that cannot be dated using dendrochronology) approach. In addition, experimental manipulations by using soil-mesocosm where highly labelled (δ13C) plant material (Picea abies) and wood blocks are placed and used to characterise and quantify the related decomposition processes and its integration into soil organic matter (chemical and physical) fractions

WP3 - Team 

WP3 - Collaborators 

WP3 - Participating students 

Dr. Federica Camin 

IASMA, Fondazione Edmund Mach,

I-38010 San Michele all’Adige




Keywords: stable isotopes (d13C, d15N)

Dr. Fabio Angeli 

Forestry service, 


Keywords: forest service, field support, logistics

Stelvio Park 

Comitato di Gestione per la Provincia Autonoma di Trento del Consorzio 

del Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio

Via Roma, 65

38024 Cogolo di Peio  TN



Dr. Giacomo Sartori

Museo delle Scienze (MUSE), 

Corso del Lavoro e della Scienza 3, 

38122 – Trento - ITALY


Keywords: mapping soil humus forms, soil sampling (profile descriptions), logisti

Dr. Roberto Larcher 

IASMA, Fondazione Edmund Mach,

I-38010 San Michele all’Adige




Keywords: soil chemistry, coordination

Dr. Daniela Bertoldi 

IASMA, Fondazione Edmund Mach,

I-38010 San Michele all’Adige




Keywords: soil chemistry (C,N, nutrients)

Dr. Alice Barbero 

IASMA, Fondazione Edmund Mach,

I-38010 San Michele all’Adige




Keywords: soil chemistry(C,N, nutrients)

Master students (University of Zurich): Mike Schärer, Simon Hafner (SOM fractionation, C manipulations)


High school student (Gymnasium Unterstrass, Zurich): Salome Guldener (C dynamics)