With the virtual SPSS2021 field trip, we aim at showing you a range of sites that could not be reached in normal field trips. We will travel more than 250 km and move from 3000 m to less than 100 m a.s.l. All sites have been the subject of various multidisciplinary studies over the last years carried out either by us or by expert colleagues from other fields of research.
The virtual field trip will follow the course of water and lead all participants through the exploration of some of the most interesting environments of North-Western Italy.
We will start from Alpine glacial lakes and ponds, high mountain vegetation and striking, hidden soils at the LTER site Istituto Mosso (Monte Rosa Massif). At an elevation ranging between about 2600 and 3300 m, the long seasonal snow cover and the cold air temperature shape the landscape, with the presence of periglacial landforms and snowbed ecosystems.
Then, following alpine rivers down to the Stura di Lanzo floodplain we will stop at one of few remaining forests that once covered the Po plain. We will show you soils that are more likely to be found in tropical areas than 100 km far from the Alps. However, after having escaped to changes in land use, these sites are now at risk because of the presence of non-indigenous tree species that through physiological adaptations sharply impact nutrient biogeochemical cycles.
Torino is just 10 km away, where the Stura di Lanzo merges with the Po river. Soil contamination is a problem here, as in many big cities that have been heavily industrialized. Industrial districts are now converted in urban parks where plant selection, decontamination techniques and architectural design meet to improve city life quality.
Still following the Po river, we will then leave Torino eastwards and look at how agriculture can shape the landscape. Lowland rice fields harbour a large biodiversity and have been proposed to be listed among the UNESCO world heritage sites. Water management in rice paddies is the main driver of rice yield and quality, but also a key factor determining soil characteristics and processes. Sustainable agriculture in these areas is, however, now facing emerging challenges that require new approaches to combine crop production, resource management and environmental issues
The four excursions will take place during the four morning sessions, according to the programme