Thesis Topics Suggestions

FOR 2016/2018 EDITION

Karadeniz Technical University, Turkey

MULTIPLE USE FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANNING: THE LEGAL AND TECHNICAL ANALYSIS FOR THE APPLICATION
Supervisor: Emin Zeki Başkent
Contact: baskent@ktu.edu.tr

INTEGRATING MUSHROOM PRODUCTION INTO FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANS DERYA
Supervisor: Mumcu Küçüker
Contacts: baskent@ktu.edu.tr; deryam4161@gmail.com

ACCOMODATION OF FOREST FIRES WITH FOREST MANAGEMENT PLANNING
SupervisorErtugrul Bilgili
Contact: bilgili@ktu.edu.tr

CHARACTERIZING FOREST FRAGMENTATION FOR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN FOREST MANAGEMENT
Supervisor: Şağdan Başkaya
Contacts: baskent@ktu.edu.tr, baskaya@ktu.edu.tr

LAND-USE LAND COVER (FOREST COVER) CHANGES AND THEIR CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES TO SOCIETY IN A GIVEN SITE (CASE STUDY)
Supervisor: Uzay Karahalil
Contact: uzay@ktu.edu.tr

EUNIS CLASSIFICATION AND ITS IMPLICATIONS TO FOREST MANAGEMENT
Supervisor: Salih Terzioglu
Contact: sterzi@ktu.edu.tr

University of Valladolid

In the Unviversity of Valladolid students shall have direct Economic Support: 500 € for travel expenses (project related and interaction with research groups), materials...etc.

Model Forest as framework for multi-stakeholder cooperation and regional governance.
Supervisor: Dr. Fátima Cruz
Model Forests initiatives are characterized by multi-level and multi-sector cooperation for improve local governance and participatory nature resources management. The master thesis student will be included in an ongoing European research project: SIMWOOD (http://simwood.efi.int ). Regional Learning Labs (RLLs) are a participatory research method used in SIMWOOD project to gathering data about wood mobilization and uses of non-timber forest resources with forest owners, managers and practitioners as well as to support the Model Forests development in Castile and Leon. Student will be inserting in a dynamic team at the University of Valladolid (campus of Palencia) and will participate in a wide European research network

Genetic control of Pine Pitch Canker by the use of pine provenances
During the Master Degree activities is planned to plant out seedlings of different pine species (Pinus radiata, P. pinaster, P. sylvestris) from northern Spain, where F. circinatum is causing damage and losses, and to determine if there are any differences in susceptibility of pine provenances to the disease over a period of 1 year. The work will run with research on young pine plants artificially inoculated with the pathogen in phytotrons at the University of Valladolid in Palencia. The work will utilize a number of provenances and sources of Spanish pines matched on to different regions in the Cantabrian pine forest. We will be testing plants from each of these ‘sources’ in the work. At least two provenances from each species will be tested. This research activities are essential in search of alternatives to Monterrey Pine in Spain.
Supervisor: Dr.Julio Diez Casero
Location: UVa - Campus at Palencia

Local basal area effect on needle litterfall (amount and nutrient concentration) in Pinus sylvestris l plantations in Spain
The aim of this study will be to evaluate the seasonal pattern of nutrient concentration in litterfall and to assess whether local basal area of the stand affects nutrient concentration of litterfall. Needle litterfall amount and their nutrient concentration will be studied in four stands of Pinus sylvestrys Mill. in Spain for one year. Eight plots have been established on each stand covering the widest range in local basal area present in the stands. Litterfall has been collected from the littertraps on a monthly basis form November 2015 to October 2016. Litterfall will be separated into different fractions (needles, branches, bark, flowers, buds, cones and nuts) and the dry weight of each fraction will be registered. Dry weight of the residual mass of litterbags will be also recorded. Litterfall samples will be analysed for C and N content in a LECO 2000 autoanalyser and for P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Cu, Mn, and Zn by Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES) after wet digestion with HNO3 and H2O2 in microwave.
Linear mixed model analysis of variance will be used to study the effect of local basal area on nutrient concentration in litterfall.
Supervisors: Mª Belén Turrión y Teresa de los Bueis. Soil Science Area (UVA-Palencia)

Effect of land-use change from natural forests of Quercus pubescens to cultivation lands in the soil phosphorus dynamic.
The aims of this study will be to determine the changes in phosphorus forms concentrations in whole soil and in its particle-size fractions(sand, silt and clay) that resulted from:
a) land use change from forest (Quercus pubescens natural forests) to agriculture
b) the amount of time from deforestation (26, 35 and 73 years)
c) type of crop stablished with different management types (wheat fields vs cotton fields)
For this purpose three stages of deforestation in an area in Northern Greece will be studied. The big amount of time transcurred since the first deforestation (73 years), the availability of three different deforestation dates and the remaining undisturbed forest, offered an interesting opportunity of studying these changes, along with assessing factors such as land use (forestry vs agriculture) and land management types correlating with the amount of time since deforestation (26, 35 and 73 years).
Supervisors: Mª Belén Turrión y Teresa de los Bueis. Soil Science Area (UVA-Palencia)

Fungal communities in Mediterranean ecosystems linked to forest fire prevention
Mediterranean forest systems can provide an important fungal production, often in high
demand. However, due to the pyrophytic characteristics of this species, forest fires are the main threat to these ecosystems. The aim of the study is to analyze the effects of fire and/or different fuel reduction treatments on these forest systems on production and diversity of fungal communities in order to enhance mushroom production and diversity and prevent forest fires.
Supervisor: Pablo Martín-Pinto (UVA - Palencia)

Impact of human background on tree selection during thinning operations: a marteloscope experiment
Different social factors blocking wood mobilization will be study by using data from a tree marking experiment conducted on Pinus-Oak marteloscope in northern Spain. Data will be analyze from a complex perspective including both social and biophysical dimmensions of forestry. The master thesis student will be included in an ongoing European Project: SIMWOOD (http://simwood.efi.int ) and will participate in a wide european network of researchers and practicioners on forest resource management. Student will be insert in a dynamic team at University of Valladolid (campus of Palencia)
Supervisors: Felipe Bravo and Fátima Cruz (UVA - Palencia)

Climate impact on early growth of Pinus pinaster Ait.
Seedlings from different Pinus pinaster provenances planted in Cuéllar (central Spain) will be collected in order to analyzed the impact of climate (rainfall, temperature,..) on biomass allocation by fractions. Aditionally tree ring growth relationship will be analyzed by using R packages (measuRing and bioDry) developed by our group. See packages details at https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/measuRing/index.html and https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/BIOdry/index.html)
Supervisor: Felipe Bravo (UVA-Palencia)

Temporal response to drought in a plantation with three co-ocurring mediterranean tree species under different canopy densities: allometry and physiology in a throughfall exclusion experiment.
Six 25m2 plots were planted with three co-ocurring species (Pinus pinea, Quercus ilex and Juniperus thurifera) of the Mediterranean mixed stands in the Northern Plateau. The plots were installed at six sites under different canopy densities along a natural light gradient. A throughfall exclusion experiment with two treatments (control vs partial throughfall exclusion) was setup in each plot. The objective of the study is to assess the temporal changes in seedlings facing a reduction in water availability, by comparing survival and chlorophyll fluorescence between 2013 and 2015, and biomass allocation after the final harvest. Differences in seedlings performance will be mediated by the species and the light environment
Supervisors: Marta Pardo and Rafael Calama (INIA-Madrid)

Comparing and identifying the optimal adaptive forest management in Pinus pinea stands under a global change scenario.
We focused in Pinus pinea stands from four Spanish regional case study areas to address multifunctional forest management within a 100 years time horizon. The objective is to define the optimal adaptive multifunctional management of these stands for each combination of management alternatives and climate and socioeconomic scenarios. The comparison of management alternatives is done through the indicators of SFM, including the provision of ecosystem services (ES). The model PINEA2 is used for the assessment and projection of ES for each forest system, management alternative and climate scenario. Planning and decision support tools will be developed for the optimization approach.
Supervisors: Marta Pardo and Rafael Calama (INIA-Madrid)

University of Lisbon - School of Agronomy

Long term monitoring of the amphibian and reptiles assemblages in the Paul do Boquilobo
SupervisorPedro Segurado - Reserva Natural do Paul do Boquilobo, Torres Novas/Golegã e Instituto Superior de Agronomia (ISA)
From December 1991 to March 1993, an exaustive characterization of the amphibian and repile community of the Paul do Boquilobo Natural Reserve was undertaken (Segurado 1994). A second characterization of the amphibina community was carried out during 2001, using the same sampling protocol. This study showed that all amphibian species suffered a drastc reduction in abundance and the disappearance of more than half of the species (Cruz et al. 2008). The result was interpreted as the consequence of the recent expansion of the exotic American crayfish. With this dissertation we intend to repeat part of the amphibian sampling during 2016, aiming at studing the changes of the amphibian assemblage in the last 25 years and obtain more sound data on the true reasons behind those changes.
References:
Segurado, P. (1994). Caracterização e Estratégia de Conservação da Herpetocenose do Paul do Boquilobo. “Licenciatura” report. Lisbon: Faculty of Sciences, Lisbon University.
Cruz, M.J., P. Segurado, M. Sousa & R. Rebelo (2008) Collapse of the amphibian community of the Paul do Boquilobo Natural Reserve (central Portugal) after the arrival of the exotic American crayfish Procambarus clarkii. Herpetological Journal 18: 197–204.

Historical geomorphology and ancient riparian woods
SupervisorMª Rosário Fernandes - ISA
The main goal of this dissertation is the characterization of the historical geomorphology and ancient riparian woody structure. The fluvial geomorphology and the structure of riparian galleries have been used as indicators for the assessment of river ecological status, particularly concerning the hydrological and land use changes. In this work will be used variables, such as the river channel morphology, the riverbed shape, the presence of sediment deposits, banks and islands, as well as variables associated with the riparian vegetation structure. Since rivers are not in a pristine condition it is necessary to use historical cartography for the establishment of the reference conditions, which allowing to estimate the deviations caused by those alterations when compared with the current condition.
Study area: River Guadiana. This work will be developed in a GIS environment (ArcGIS 10.1) and will include: Georeferencing of old maps, digitalization of the geomorphological and riparian sampling units, landscape metrics and sinuosity index calculations.
References
Dufour S, Rinaldi M, Piégay H, Michalon A. 2015 How do river dynamics and human influences affect the landscape pattern of fluvial corridors? Lessons from the Magra River, Central–Northern Italy. Landscape and Urban Planning 134, 107-118. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.10.007
Fernandes MR, Aguiar FC, Ferreira MT. 2011. Assessing riparian vegetation structure and the influence of land use using landscape metrics and geostatistical tools. Landscape and Urban Planning 99(2): 166-177. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2010.11.001
Garófano-Gómez V, Martínez-Capel F, Bertoldi W, Gurnell A, Estornell J, Segura-Beltrán F. 2013. Six decades of changes in the riparian corridor of a Mediterranean river: a synthetic analysis based on historical data sources. Ecohydrology, 6: 536-553. DOI: 10.1002/eco.1330
Hoffman MT, Rohde RF. 2011. Rivers through time: historical changes in the riparian vegetation of the semi-arid, winter rainfall region of South Africa in response to climate and land use. Journal of the History of Biology, 44 (1):59-80. doi: 10.1007/s10739-010-9246-4.

Assessment of the black alder (Alnus glutinosa (L) Gaertn.) potential for woody biomass production
SupervisorAntónio Fabião / Jorge Gominho - ISA
Several woody species native from Portugal have been rarely studied aiming the assessment of their biomass production potential. This is partly due to their modest areas within the country and to low importance for national forest production. The emergence of the potential of wood biomass for energy production has been changing this paradigm leading to a growing need of detailed information on the production potential of those species. Black alder occurs within riparian woody galleries and lowland soils and is included within those species. The ISA Pedagogic Area of Bioenergetic Plants has a plot with this species, installed in 2008. The aim of the present study is to quantify the biomass of this plot, asses its growth performance, and determine some of the physical characteristics of the wood produced.

Assessment of the narrow-leafed ash (Fraxinus angustifolia Vahl.) potential for woody biomass production
SupervisorsAntónio Fabião / Jorge Gominho - ISA
Several woody species native from Portugal have been rarely studied aiming the assessment of their biomass production potential. This is partly due to their modest areas within the country and to low importance for national forest production. The emergence of the potential of wood biomass for energy production has been changing this paradigm leading to a growing need of detailed information on the production potential of those species. Narrow-leafed ash occurs in Portugal within riparian woody galleries and lowland soils and is included within those species. The ISA Pedagogic Area of Bioenergetic Plants has a plot with this species, installed in 2008. The aim of the present study is to quantify the biomass of this plot, asses its growth performance, and determine some of the physical characteristics of the wood produced.
Effects of farming practices applied to olive tree orchards on the breeding success of red-legged partridge
António Fabião / José Pimentel Coelho - Serpa municipality (Southern Alentejo) and ISA
Red-legged partridge may select olive-tree orchards as a breeding habitat, including those that are intensively managed within irrigated areas. Nevertheless, during the red-legged partridge reproductive season - especially between March and May - those orchards are frequently submitted to the elimination of ground vegetation through the use of agricultural machinery that may destroy nests, eggs, and even young birds. The aim of these work is to assess the mortality of partridge offspring due to agricultural practices, estimating simultaneously the cost-profit balance arising from replacement of hunting benefit by olive-tree economic production. In addition, it is expected the search and description of alternative management practices allowing the harmonization of olive production with breeding success of red-legged partridge populations.

Comparing the biomass production potential of Salicaceae from first and second rotation harvest
SupervisorsAntónio Fabião / Margarida Tomé - ISA
Poplars and willows are among the most commonly used species involved in the production of biomass-for-energy within the European Union. Nevertheless, their use in the Mediterranean region has been limited to wetlands and areas where summer irrigation is possible and available. The ISA Pedagogic Area of Bioenergetic Plants has irrigated plots containing some species of the Salicaceae family, both obtained from the wild and from clones selected for wood production. These plots have already been harvested once, the information on above-ground biomass production being available, and have now different ages within a second rotation. The aim of the study is to compare biomass production performances between (i) wild species and production-selected clones, and (ii) first and second rotation of the same species or clones.

Validation of the method used by the SUBER model for the estimation of extracted cork dry weight with more than 9 years of growth
SupervisorsJoana Amaral Paulo / Margarida Tomé - ISA
This subject will allow the student to increase its knowledge on cork characteristics and growth, cork oak stands management and basic statistical model validation methodologies.
The method used by the SUBER model (http://hdl.handle.net/10400.5/3850) for the estimation of cork weigh extracted in the tree despite cork age has already been validated for cork with 9, 10 and 11 years of growth (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2010.02.010). Validation of this method for cork with increasing ages requires cork weight data and cork samples collection. Existing cork weight data and cork samples collected in debarked trees with 12, 13 and 14 years of cork growth are available for the proposed thesis. The student will be responsible for:
• Measuring cork thickness before and after boiling (location: ISA)
• Caring out the model/method validation using Excel
The students will be oriented by Dr. Joana Amaral Paulo and Prof. Margarida Tomé during their work.

Quantifying losses and mortality in forest stands caused by forest fires. Management strategies
Susete Marques - ISA/Ulisboa
Quantifying fire risk and mortality using probabilistic models and suppressing strategies definition.

Reconstructing environmental history from riparian wood traits as a tool for riparian forest management
SupervisorsPatricia Maria Rodríguez-González / Maria Teresa Ferreira, Filipe Campelo - ISA
In this study we plan to reconstruct the effects of different management options on the functional responses on the most common riparian trees occurring in South-western Europe/Portugal. The study includes to identify long-term environmental signals from wood traits, and to relate them with climatic, hydrologic and geomorphologic variables across contrasting managed river habitats using a combination of tools including dendrochronology, image analysis and statistical modelling. This theme will provide the student a knowledge base in riparian forests ecology and management in the context of current environmental and land use management trends, while applying laboratory and statistical modelling methods (image analysis, time series analysis). The study is integrated in an ongoing larger project addressing wetland and riparian ecosystems vulnerability to global changes, so the expected results will be integrated with findings from the main project to propose (a) criteria to identify potential future areas most at risk across the distribution area of the target species (b) management guidelines for priority riparian forests in future scenarios of climatic and anthropogenic change.

Understory vegetation impacts in the carbon sequestration of a cork oak woodlands
SupervisorsAlexandra Correia / F. Costa e Silva - Herdade da Machoqueira (Coruche)
Comparison of carbon sequestration in contrasting cork oak woodland understory land uses. Analysis of the temporal and spatial variability in carbon stocks of herbaceous vegetation trough destructive sampling and separation into functional groups.

Analysis of the temporal variability of litter-fall in a cork oak woodland: effect of phenology in productivity
SupervisorsF. Costa e Silva / Alexandra Correia - Herdade da Machoqueira (Coruche)
Evaluation of the temporal variability of litter-fall in a cork oak woodland using litter baskets with separation of the biomass in the different components (leaves, branches, acorns, flowers). Analysis of a 5 years old time series in order to investigate the impacts of climatic effects and interaction of phenological events in productivity.

Evaluation of the leaf area index in a cork oak woodland using hemispherical photography
SupervisorsAlexandra Correia / F. Costa e Silva Herdade da Machoqueira (Coruche)
Evaluation of the leaf area index in two time series (2009 and 2015) using hemispherical photography. The work involves the collection of hemispherical photography’s of tree canopies in the same plots as 2009.

Analysis of the seasonal variability of carbon sequestration is a cork oak woodland
SupervisorsF. Costa e Silva / Alexandra Correia Herdade da Machoqueira (Coruche)
Analysis of the variability of the net primary productivity in a cork oak woodland in a 6 years-old time series. Study of the effects of climate and management.

Flowering induction in Eucalyptus grafting
SupervisorsHenrique Ribeiro / M Helena Almeida - Raiz - Herdade Espirra
Flowering induction is an essential tool in Eucalyptus breeding program of and can shorten the breeding cycle. In addition to the early flowering induction and in its increase, it is necessary to ensure retention of the capsules in the tree, preventing its premature fall. There are references that certain chemical / nutrient elements, can trigger the production of flower buds. After benchmarking several treatments should be tested by checking the respective impact on flowering.

Mother-trees management effect on the rooting of cuttings
SupervisorsHenrique Ribeiro / M Helena Almeida - Raiz - Herdade Espirra
The clonal propagation of Eucalyptus globulus from adult material is feasible, although the success of this process is generally low and irregular. In addition to the effect of genotype, there are factors that can be manipulated in order to increase the success of the production process of eucalyptus plants by cuttings. The management of mother-trees parks in the installation phase and during the production cycles. We aim to test different processes in the management of mothers-trees in eucalyptus clones and the influence on the success of production and rooting of cuttings.

Umbrella pine height growth study in young plantations located in Portugal in the Alentejo and Ribatejo regions
SupervisorsJoão Pedro Freire / Margarida Tomé – ISA and Alentejo and/or Ribatejo regions
Objective: Measure and model the growth of young plantations of stone pine.
Work description: The work will focus on the installation and measurement of the height of several whorls of pine trees in young stands of known age located in the regions of Alentejo and Ribatejo. The analysis of the growth so obtained will allow to study the relationship between growth and station characteristics (management practices, soil and climate). The data obtained will be used for the adjustment of initialization functions for the PINEA_PT model.
Valences for the student: The dissertation on this subject will allow students to learn about the growth of stone pine in the early stages and the management of the umbrella pine forest. The processing of data will give an introduction to modeling growth and forest production, with a depth dependent on the capabilities demonstrated by the student. The student will also be familiar with the PINEA_PT model and the use of simulators within the sIMfLOR platform (www.isa.ulisboa.pt/cef/forchange/fctools).

Effects of fertilization and irrigation on grafted stone pine cones
SupervisorsJoão Pedro Freire / Margarida Tomé- ISA
Objective: Study the impact of fertilization and irrigation on the growth of stone pine cones.
Work description: A fertilization and irrigation trial in a stone pine grafted stand was established in January 2014 in Coruche region under the project PINEA. The treatments considered were: fertilization and irrigation; fertilization; irrigation and control. Cone growth was monthly monitored during the growth period for two consecutive years in the four treatments. The study will focus on the trees with smaller, average and largest number of cones. The student will complete the dataset by measuring the length, width and area of pine cones that were registered in photographs with an image analysis program and use basic methods of descriptive statistics to verify the influence of the various treatments on the growth of stone pine cones.
Valences for the student: The dissertation on this topic will allow the student to work with an image analysis system and with basic methods of descriptive statistics.

Quantifying individual cork oak tree resistance to drought: first approach for the development of a tree resistance index
SupervisorsJoana Amaral Paulo / Margarida Tomé - ISA
Using annual cork growth measurements from 2 distinct sites, and covering a period of 27 consecutive years of growth, the student will be able to do an evaluation of the individual tree resistance to drought. The data is partially available and the student will be responsible for completing the data collection by measuring cork growth rings in existing cork samples. For this the student will use a software that will be suggested and demonstrated. Using the tree characterization the student will be able to propose and discuss a first approach for the definition of a tree resistance index. Along the work the student might be able to visit the sampling sites as well as other permanent plots. At the end the student will be responsible for writing a thesis, following the most common format of a scientific paper.

Influence of Leptoglussus occidentalis Heidemann on pine kernel yield in various stages of development of stone pine
Manuela Branco / Pedro Naves, Edmundo Sousa - ISA / INIAV, Herdade da Machoqueira (Coruche)
Objective: Study the influence of Leptoglossus occidentalis Heidemann on yield in stone pine pinion
Work description: The dissertation will allow the student to study the influence of Leptoglussus occidentalis Heidemann by comparing the yield of stone pine kernel collected before and after the introduction of this agent.
Valences for the student: The dissertation on this topic will allow the student to work with basic methods of descriptive statistics.

Host preference and damage by Leptoglossus occidentalis in different pine species
SupervisorsManuela Branco / Pedro Naves, Edmundo Sousa - ISA / INIAV, Herdade da Machoqueira (Coruche)
To determine host preference by Leptoglossus occidentalis among different pine species, including P. pinea. Relate host preference with cone development and phenology. Determine seed damage by X-ray analysis. Determine behaviour in function of different volatile compounds.

Behaviour and susceptibilty of Leptoglossus occidentalis at extreme temperatures
SupervisorsManuela Branco / Edmundo Sousa - ISA / INIAV
Analyse the behaviour of L. occidentalis under different photoperiod and temperature conditions. Detect possible conditions for pheromone emission. Determine susceptibility to extreme temperatures.

University of Lleida

ASSESSMENT OF LAND USE AND LAND COVER CHANGES EFFECT ON SOIL C STOCKS OF SPAIN
Supervisors: Pere Rovira/Mireia Llorente (CTFC)
The effects of land use and land cover change (LULLC) have become a key issue for the scientific community concerned with global environmental change. Soil organic C is the largest C stock in most terrestrial ecosystems and it plays an importante role in the C cycle.
LULLC have contributed to a decrease of soil C storage worldwide, more intensely in the last decades in the Mediterranean áreas. After fuel consumption, LULCC is considered the second major cause of CO2 emissions. This may be not the case of Spain, where LUCC may have driven a global net C sequestration in soil. The massive land abandonment from the 60’s decade onwards had as a consequence a strong increase in the forested area. To what extent these land use changes result in a net sequestration of C in the soil, may depend on how easily the new forest stands (either man-made or spontaneously recovered from adjacent forests) develop and grow. This may greatly depend on the climatic constraints, and thus a variety of responses to LUCC must be expected, as to changes in soil C storage.
CARBOSOL Network is a colaborative network formed by Universities and Reseach Centres all around Spain and focused in Soil C Stocks. CARBOSOL is compiling a strong Data Base of Soils of Spain that provide a wide information about LULLC and its asociated soil C stocks from the 80s to today. By combination of soil and land cover maps and data sets, the main goal of the thesis will be to assess the impact of land use and land cover change on soil C stocks at regional scale.

FOREST RECOVERY ON ABANDONED CROP LANDS: EVOLUTION OF SOIL FERTILITY
Supervisor: Pere Rovira (CTFC)
In Catalonia, many crops were abandoned in the decades post-1960. Some of them were close to natural forests, and after decades a secondary forest appeared in most of them. This should result in a net sequestration of organic carbon (OC) in soil, but also in changes in many parameters, related to nutrient availability. Detectable changes in the status of some elements extremely important for soil chemistry such as iron or aluminum may also occur. Most of these changes are directly related to the increase in soil OC content. Our proposal aims to study these changes in a series of plots (about 20) in the county of El Pla de l’Estany (near Girona, NE Catalonia), under three different land uses: (i) crop lands, (ii) new forests developed on crop lands abandoned after 1960, and (iii) old forests, already well-grown in 1950-1960, according aerial photographs. Both the new and the old forests are mixed stands of Quercus ilex sbsp ilex L. and Pinus halepensis L. Soil sampling in these stands in under way; thus the Erasmus student will have most soil samples ready to start the analytical work directly. Nevertheless, we plan to carry out the field sampling of a plot, as a part of its training. The Erasmus student will focus its work on N, P and K availability, nitrogen forms (by acid hydrolysis), phosphorus forms (Hedley- fractionation method), cationic exchange capacity, exchangeable cations, and free iron and aluminum forms. Other parameters such as the water capacity retention of soils may be also investigated, depending on time availability. The output of this work should be at least a published paper in a SCI journal; depending on the relevance of some results, specific papers could be considered (e.g., a specific paper for phosphorus).

PREDICTING FOREST LITTER ACCUMULATION FROM FOREST INVENTORY DATA
Supervisors: Miquel de Cáceres/Pere Casals (CTFC)
Accumulated litter is a parameter seldom measured in forest inventory plots. However, litter is an important fuel component in fire behaviour. The objective of this study is to explore methods of estimating the accumulated litter (L + F horizons) at regional scale using the structure and composition of the forest given in inventory plots. Allometric equations and leaf duration will be used to estimate the annual litter production and climatic conditions will be used to estimate an average rate of decomposition. The study will use data from the Ecological Forest Inventory of Catalonia (IEFC) for the calibration and validation of the method; and data from the Spanish National Forest Inventory (IFN) to make predictions at the regional scale (Catalonia).

ASSESSING THE VARIATION FUEL CHARACTERISTICS AND FIRE HAZARD ACROSS SPAIN
Supervisors: Miquel de Cáceres/Pere Casals (CTFC)
Fire hazard is defined as the potential fire behaviour for a fuel type, regardless of the fuel type’s weather-influenced fuel moisture content. Assessments of fire hazard in Mediterranean forests are often hindered by a limited knowledge of understory fuels. In a recent study, (understory and canopy) fuel characteristics (surface and crown) fire hazard were assessed for Catalonia (NE Spain) using data from the Spanish national forest inventory (De Cáceres in prep.). This was done thanks to a compilation of allometric relationships to calculate fuel loading and of species-level flammability parameters. The objectives of this study are to conduct a similar analysis for the whole Spain and to explore correlations and climatic trends in fuel characteristics and fire hazard.

DETERMINING SPECIES VULNERABILITY TO DROUGHT ACROSS SPAIN
Supervisors: Miquel de Cáceres (CTFC)/Jordi Martínez Vilalta (CREAF)
Mechanistic water balance models can be used to predict soil moisture dynamics and drought stress in individual forest stands. Applying these models using forest inventory data and climatic data allows obtain daily estimates of drought stress for several tree species across a large region (De Cáceres et al. 2015). Adopting this approach, the objective of this study will be to assess, for a number of tree species, the variation of drought stress across their distribution in Spain and identify areas of high vulnerability to drought-related mortality impacts.
De Cáceres, M., J. Martínez-Vilalta, L. Coll, P. Llorens, P. Casals, R. Poyatos, J. G. Pausas, and L. Brotons. 2015. Coupling a water balance model with forest inventory data to predict drought stress: the role of forest structural changes vs. climate changes. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 213:77–90.

UNRAVELING THE POPULATIONS OF QUAIL THROUGH MONITORING
Supervisor: Jesús Nadal
The common quail is a game bird, summer migratory that nests in Europe and winters in Africa. Sustainable management of quail requires knowing their travel and stay in Spain and Europe during the summer, in addition to travel and winter stay in African countries. Although in recent years the knowledge of the species has greatly advanced, there are still many shortcomings that it is compulsory to address. Since the last century in Spain and Europe has been made an important effort in the ringing of migratory birds. However, there are no studies that collect this information for quails in Spanish or European level. It is therefore important to devote efforts and resources to research of quail banding data in Spain and Europe.

IMPACT OF FARM PARTRIDGES ON WILD POPULATIONS
Supervisor: Jesús Nadal
The red-legged partridge hunting is gamebird, sedentary which has its main distribution in the Iberian Peninsula. Sustainable management of wild species, requires knowledge of the impact of farm partridges released into the field on populations of wild partridges. For 20 years, the ETSEA studies on wild and repopulated partridges, captured by hunters in various localities of the peninsula, are made. However, it has not been compiled and analyzed together this information. It is therefore important to study the accumulated data on wild and farm partridges captured by hunters

MINERALOGY AND MICROMORPHOLOGY OF SOILS ON MEDITERRANEAN LOESS
Supervisor: Rosa Ma. Poch
Loess outcrops in the Mediterranean are not as well known as in other temperate areas of the world, but they are equally bearing information about paleoclimates and paleoenvironment. The Ebro valley is one of the sites where loess (aeolian silt deposits) was originated due to strong winds in a desert-like environment. This thesis comprises field work (identifying and describing soils on loess), laboratory work (soil and mineralogical analyses), microscopy and reporting on the relevance and special characteristics of these soils.

SYSTEMATIC CONSERVATION PLANNING FOR BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN CATALONIA
Supervisor: Virgilio Hermoso (CTFC)
In this project we will focus on identifying priority areas for the conservation of terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by forest in Catalonia. We will pay special attention on how to harmonise the exploitation of provisioning services (e.g., logging) with other regulation/ cultural services (e.g., carbon sequestration/ recreational opportunities) and biodiversity conservation. We will compile existing information on the spatial distribution of different taxonomic groups (e.g., mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) and build maps of different ecosystem services from existing surrogates (e.g., forest age and cover). This information will be the baseline for the identification of priority areas key to the maintenance of ecosystem services and biodiversity by using landscape planning tools such as Marxan (http://marxan.net/), one of the world´s most widely used conservation planning software.

ANALYZING FOREST REGENERATION IN MEDITERRANEAN PINE FORESTS OF POBLET
Supervisors: Victor Resco de Dios / Sergio de Miguel
In this project, the student will get hands on experience into the analysis and modelling of regeneration as a function of thinning and site environmental characteristics. We will provide with data collected over 4 years and will assist the student into mastering data analyses and regression modelling using the R software environment.

VALUABLE BROADLEAVES PLANTATION NETWORK IN CATALONIA
Supervisor: Jaime Coello (CTFC)
The student will complete, refine and analyse a database of a network of more than 40 experimental field trials (around 15,000 trees) with valuable broadleaved species, aged 5-15. The variables considered are annual/bi-annual measurements of tree status, diameter and height. The aims of the thesis are (i) analyse the relations between weather, soil, species, treatment and tree growth; and (ii) derive production models based on these relations. Most of this thesis will be performed at the office, although some field work (10-15% of time) is foreseen.

STUDY ON INNOVATIVE FOREST RESTORATION TECHNIQUES AGAINST WEEDS AND DROUGHT APPLIED ON HYBRID WALNUT
Supervisor: Jaime Coello (CTFC)
Based on two field trials installed inN2014 in the framework of FP7 Sustaffor project
(http://www.sustaffor.eu/?lang=en) the student will analyse the 3-year available data on tree vegetative status, tree growth, soil moisture, soil temperature, tree physiology and soil features. The aim of the thesis is to study the effect of the innovative treatments on tree performance and soil variables in two different field trials, described below:
http://www.sustaffor.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Sustaffor_Field-trial...
http://www.sustaffor.eu/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Sustaffor_Field-trial...

University of Tuscia

Protected areas and spatial conservation priorities for natural vegetation of the
Gran Chaco, one of the most threatened ecoregions of the world

Supervisor/s: Prof. Maria Laura Carranza (email: Carranza@unimol.it)
To evaluate the representativeness of the current network of protected areas
(PAs) of one of the most threatened ecoregions in the world, the South
American Gran Chaco, and determine priority conservation areas for natural
vegetation of the region.
We will use the actual vegetation map of the Gran Chaco in central Argentina.
Then, we will analyze the representativeness and abundance of natural
vegetation inside PAs by Gap analysis. Lastly, we will use ZONATION, a
spatial conservation prioritization software, to evaluate representativeness of
the current protected areas (PAs) network of the region and to define forest
remnants to strategically expand PAs while maximizing the representativeness
of natural vegetation and considering human activities.
Preferred curricular requisite: Landscape ecology. GIS, Remote sensing, Conservation of biodiversity
Location/s of the experimental activities: IEnvix Lab – University of Molise in Pesche (CB-Italy)
Start month: 01/02/ 2017
End month: 30/06/ 2017

Urban sprawl and its effects on ecosystem services of natural dune ecosystems
in the Mediterranean. An insight into the Adriatic coast.

Supervisor/s: Prof. Maria Laura Carranza (email: Carranza@unimol.it)
To analyse urban sprawl and calculate the value of this change in terms of
loose of Carbon sink ecosystem service of dune psammofiluos ecosystems on
a representative sector of the Mediterranean coast. On the basis of detailed land-cover maps (dated 1954 and 2006), the sprawl of urban areas into the natural dune cover types will be assessed by transition matrices. Using the soil carbon stock values and assessing recreational values within coastal dune along the Adriatic coast, we will calculate a net loss (C%/year)
and recreational value variation in the last 50 years.
Preferred curricular requisite: Landscape ecology. GIS, Remote sensing, Conservation of biodiversity
Location/s of the experimental activities: IEnvix Lab – University of Molise in Pesche (CB-Italy)
Start month: 01/02/2017
End month: 30/06/2017

Types of sustainability forest management
Supervisor/s: Prof. Francesco Carbone
Economy of natural resources defines different types of sustainable forest
management. For each defining the essential characteristics both technically
and economically. The aim of the thesis is to investigate how sustainable management has been implemented in the region and what are the technical and professional tools
commonly used. The study will be based on the analysis of forest management plan, Nature
2000 management plans and plans of park in the regional forest land.
Preferred curricular requisite: Forest economy; Silviculture; Italian language >B1
Location/s of the experimental activities: University of Tuscia. Visits in the parks and in the regional forest office and local will be developed
Start month: flexible
End month: flexible

TRANSACTION COST IN THE FOREST SECTOR
Supervisor: Prof. Francesco Carbone
The multifunctional role of forests is posing growing problems in forest resource managers. Many of these are reflected in increasingly complex and burdensome administrative procedures. The aim of the thesis is to estimate the transaction costs as well as to classify them by cost types. The study is based on a survey of forest firms and logging companies to indentify the type and quantify amount.
Preferred curricular requisite: Forest economy; Silviculture; Italian language >B1
Location/s of the experimental activities: Interviews with forest owners and managers of logging company. University of Tuscia.
Start month: flexible
End month: flexible

TYPES OF SUSTAINABILITY FOREST MANAGEMENT
Supervisor: Prof. Francesco Carbone
Economy of natural resources defines different types of sustainable forest management. For each defining the essential characteristics both technically and economically. The aim of the thesis is to investigate how sustainable management has been implemented in the region and what are the technical and professional tools commonly used. The study will be based on the analysis of forest management plan, Nature 2000 management plans and plans of park in the regional forest land.
Preferred curricular requisite: Forest economy; Silviculture; Italian language >B1
Location/s of the experimental activities: University of Tuscia. Visits in the parks and in the regional forest office and local will be developed
Start month: flexible
End month: flexible

CHANGES IN SOIL NUTRIENT AS A CONSEQUENCE OF SELECTIVE LOGGING IN TROPICAL FORESTS IN CENTRAL AND WESTERN AFRICA
Supervisor/s: Prof. Sara Marinari (marinari@unitus.it); Dr. Tommaso Chiti (tommaso.chiti@unitus.it)
The aim of this research is the assessment of the impact of selective logging on some soil features in three chronosequences in Ghana, Cameroon and Gabon. In each chronosequence, from unlogged forest to forest that was selectively logged at different times in the past, soil samples collected at various depths to 1 m depth will be analysed for the content of nutrients and for the heterotrophic respiration. This will allow evaluating changes in soil carbon decomposition and fertility as a consequence of forest management.
Preferred curricular requisite: Pedology or an equivalent course on soil science; forest ecology; silviculture; forest ecophysiology
Location/s of the experimental activities: Soil Chemistry and biochemistry & Pedology Labs
Start month: February 2017
End month: June 2017

CHANGES IN SOIL CARBON STABILITY IN PLANTATIONS AND DEGRADED FOREST SITES OF KENYA
Supervisor/s: Prof. Sara Marinari (email:marinara@unitus.it); Dr. Tommaso Chiti (tommaso.chiti@unitus.it)
Short description of the objectives and methods: A chronosequence of cypress and another of tea, established on former degraded forest soils will be used for this study. The soil samples, collected in different layers to 1 m depth, will be used for analyses of different labile soil carbon fractions and for the potential heterotrophic respiration. This will allow assessing possible changes in soil carbon stability due to the replacement of tropical forests with tree plantations.
Preferred curricular requisite:: Pedology or an equivalent course on soil science; forest ecology; silviculture; forest ecophysiology
Location/s of the experimental activities: Soil Chemistry and biochemistry & Pedology Labs
Start month. February 2017
End month: June 2017

RAINFALL TIME SERIES ANALYSIS IN ROME AND VITERBO
Supervisor/s: Prof. Salvatore Grimaldi (email: Salvatore.grimaldi@unitus.it)
The aim is to verify if extreme rainfall events are stationary in time. Several statistical empirical methods will be applied on hystorical rainfall time series observed in Roma and Viterbo.
Preferred curricular requisite: Hydrology; statistics
Location/s of the experimental activities: MecHydroLab offices
Start month: March 2017
End month: July 2017

TEMPERATURE TIME SERIES ANALYSIS IN ROME AND VITERBO
Supervisor/s: Prof. Salvatore Grimaldi (email: Salvatore.grimaldi@unitus.it)
The aim is to verify if temperature time series are stationary in time. Several statistical empirical methods will be applied on hystorical temperature time series observed in Roma and Viterbo.
Preferred curricular requisite: Hydrology; statistics
Location/s of the experimental activities: MecHydroLab offices
Start month: March 2017
End month: July 2017

DESIGN HYDROGRAPH ESTIMATION IN SMALL WATERSHED
Supervisor/s: Prof. Salvatore Grimaldi (email: Salvatore.grimaldi@unitus.it)
The aim is to test a software, named EBA4SUB recently implemented by MecHydroLab research group, on watersheds.
Preferred curricular requisite: Hydrology.
Location/s of the experimental activities: MecHydroLab offices
Start month: March 2017
End month: July 2017

IMAGE ANALYSIS FOR SURFACE FLOW OBSERVATIONS
Supervisor/s: Prof. Salvatore Grimaldi (email: Salvatore.grimaldi@unitus.it)
The aim is to test algorithms for estimating the surface river flow using a camera. Students will work on experimental videos collected in the gauge-cam station we have active on the Tiber river in a cross section in Roma urban area.
Preferred curricular requisite: Hydrology, possibly but not necessary Matlab.
Location/s of the experimental activities: MecHydroLab offices
Start month: March 2017
End month: July 2017

ESTIMATING SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT (SFM) INDICATORS
Supervisor/s: Prof. Anna BARBATI (email: barbati.sisfor@unitus.it)
Statistically-designed forest inventories are gaining relevance for monitoring
the state and trends of forest resources. The objective of this study is to apply
inferential methods for estimating selected Forest Europe indicators of SFM at
the forest compartment scale using forest structure and composition variables
(tree status, diameter, height, deadwood, microhabitats) assessed over a
network of 50 forest inventory plots. Most of the thesis will be performed at
the office, although some field work (10-15% of time) might be necessary.
Preferred curricular requisite: GIS, Research support for SFM
Location/s of the experimental activities: Riserva Naturale del Lago di Vico (Viterbo)
Start month: February 2017
End month: July 2017

MAPPING SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT (SFM) INDICATORS
Supervisor/s: Prof. Anna BARBATI (email: barbati.sisfor@unitus.it)
Coupling ground sample data collected by forest inventory with remote sensing data is a sound option to map selected SFM indicators at the scale of medium-to large forest management units, but still impractical for forest data end-users, at least in terms of cost-effectiveness. The objective of this study is to explore the capability of high resolution multispectral images acquired from E-bee drone
(https://www.sensefly.com/drones/ebee.html) to derive information on selected Forest Europe indicators of SFM (tree species composition, forest crown condition) at the forest compartment scale. Visual and semi-automatic segmentation) classification techniques will be tested to classify E-bee imagery in order to derive maps of the indicators at the forest compartment scale. Ground sample data from available forest inventory plots will be used for map validation.
Most of the thesis will be performed at the office although some field work
(10-15% of time) might be necessary.
Preferred curricular requisite: GIS, Remote sensing, Research support for SFM
Location/s of the experimental activities: Pilot test area in Riserva Naturale del Lago di Vico (Viterbo)
: Start month:: February 2017
: End month: July

ENZYMATIC ACTIVITIES AS INDICATORS OF HYDROMORPHISM IN SALTMARSHES SOILS
Supervisor/s: Prof. Sara Marinari (marinari@unitus.it)
Three sandbanks in Baiona lagoon will be considered. In each saltmarsh four
soil profiles will analysed from the inside (+ 100 cm asl approximately)
outside the saltmarsh (around -25), and grouped into three main areas
according to vegetation cover.
Objective: to investigate the functional diversity of these soils, and understand
how the vegetation and hydromorphic condition influence the enzymatic
activity in the soil.
Preferred curricular requisite: Pedology or an equivalent course on soil science
Location/s of the experimental activities: Soil Chemistry and biochemistry & Pedology Labs
Start month: March 2017
: End month: June 2017

THE SIGNATURE OF DISTURBANCES IN WOOD ANATOMICAL AND DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL TRAITS OF MOUNTAIN CONIFERS
Supervisor/s: Prof. Roberto Tognetti, Prof. Manuela Romagnoli (mroma@unitus.it)
Extreme events, including earthquakes, are of key importance for forest
ecosystems. However, the unpredictability of these events and the array of and methods bioclimatic responses challenge investigations. In this context, tree rings and the related xylem anatomical traits represent promising sources of information, due to the wide time perspective and quality of the information they can provide.
Preferred curricular requisite: Curriculum Mountain forests
Location/s of the experimental activities: Univ. Molise & Univ. Tuscia
Start month: September 2016
End month: May 2017

IMPROVING PLANT-SOIL WATER RELATIONS IN SEMI-ARID ENVIRONMENTS USING WOODY BIOCHAR: IMPACTS ON SEED RECRUITMENT AND INTER-SPECIFIC COMPETITION
Supervisor/s: Prof. Paolo De Angelis (pda@unitus.it) / Dr. Dario Liberati
The general objective is to test the potential benefit of the organic amendment
“biochar”, on plant-soil water relations and on soil C-sequestration. The specific objectives are related to analyse the initial phases of a plant community recolonization on poor soil and under semiarid climate. The experiment will be conducted at mesocosms scale, using different Mediterranean shrub species.
Preferred curricular requisite Botany, Ecology, Plant ecophysiology, Soil sciences
Location/s of the experimental activities: Forest ecophysiology Lab and Greenhouse in the University experimental farm (close to the campus)
Start month: February 2017
End month: July 2017

REDUCING HEAVY METAL MOBILITY IN PHYTOREMEDIATION PROJECTS USING WOODY BIOCHAR: IMPACTS ON PLANT AND SOIL FUNCTIONING
Supervisor/s: Prof. Paolo De Angelis (pda@unitus.it) / Dr. Dario Liberati
The general objective is to test the potential benefit of the organic amendment “biochar”, in the context of phytoremediation projects. The specific objectives are related to analyse the interactions among biochar amendment, plant functionality, soil C-sequestration and heavy metal bioavailability in a Zn enriched substrate. The experiment is already ongoing at mesocosms scale, using palustris species.
Preferred curricular requisite: Botany, Ecology, Plant ecophysiology, Soil chemistry, ecotoxicology
Location/s of the experimental activities: Forest ecophysiology Lab and Greenhouse in an external infrastructure (travelling and field activities in collaboration with internal staff)
Start month: January 2017
End month: June 2017

DEVELOPMENT OF HYBRID SENSING PROBES FOR MONITORING SOIL POLLUTION:
Supervisor/s: Dr. Fabrizio De Cesare (decesare@unitus.it)
Development of a sensing device (probe) to be used for monitoring soil pollution. The possible probes can be of two types: i) to be inserted into the soil; ii) to be used on soil surface, depending on which kind of pollutant must be detected and monitored. The probe will be a hybrid-type because will be intended to measure several distinct parameters (e.g. inorganic, organic, biological, biochemical) using diverse sensors and/or sensing systems
Preferred curricular requisite: Soil Chemistry, Organic and/or Inorganic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry
: Location/s of the experimental activities: : University of Tuscia and National Research Council-Area della Ricerca di Montelibretti (Monterotondo - Rome)
Start month: flexible
End month: flexible

DEVELOPMENT OF HYBRID SENSING PROBES FOR MONITORING METABOLIC ACTIVITIES IN SOIL:
Supervisor/s: Dr. Fabrizio De Cesare (decesare@unitus.it)
Development of a sensing device (probe) to be used for monitoring soil
metabolic activities (e.g. enzyme activities, microbial biomass). The possible
probes can be of two types: i) to be inserted into the soil; ii) to be used on soil
surface, depending on specific purposes
Preferred curricular requisite: Soil Biology, Soil Biochemistry, Soil Chemistry, Organic and Inorganic, Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry
Location/s of the experimental activities: University of Tuscia and National Research Council-Area della Ricerca di Montelibretti (Monterotondo - Rome)
Start month: flexible
End month: flexible

PRELIMINARY TITLE DEVELOPMENT OF NANOMATERIALS FOR DECONTAMINATION OF POLLUTED SOILS
Supervisor/s: Dr. Fabrizio De Cesare (decesare@unitus.it)
Development of nanomaterials suitable to support specific purposes to achieve the final target of decontamination of soils and/or water sources (e.g. wastewater). Possible tools can include fabrics or membranes immobilizing enzymes or encapsulating microorganisms, catalytic filters or combinations. Various nanomaterials can be used on purpose as pristine materials (single polymers) or composites (combinations of them)
Preferred curricular requisite: Enzymology, Microbiology, Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, Environmental Chemistry
Location/s of the experimental activities: University of Tuscia and National Research Council - Area della Ricerca di Montelibretti (Monterotondo - Rome)
Start month: flexible
End month: flexible