The research group of Prof. G. Kozlowski at the Botanic Garden of the University of Fribourg in collaboration with the Natural History Museum Fribourg (NHMF) initiates and/or participates actively in various local conservation, research and museological activities.
Leading researcher: Yann Fragnière
Pinus cembra is an outsider among the European pine species: it is a five-needle pine, closely related to the Siberian and East-Asiatic P. sibirica, P. pumila and P. koraiensis. Currently, there is a very large disjunction between P. cembra (endemic to the Alps and Carpathians) and its nearest relative, P. sibirica. The fragmentation of the formerly united range of these closely related species may have occurred in the Atlantic time of the Holocene (approximately 7,000 years BP). In any case, P. cembra is clearly a relict boreal element of the European flora. In the canton of Fribourg, P. cembra rarely forms pure stands (with the exception of the Forêt du Lapé), and thus Swiss stone pine forests belong to the rarest forest type in Western Prealps. They mainly occur in the central Alps and possess only a few exclaves on the northern side of the Alps. These isolated populations possess an enormous biogeographic and conservation value. However, the natural character of all known populations and small isolated stands needs to be confirmed, since hundreds of thousands(!) of seedlings were planted in canton of FR at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
Vincent Sonnenwyl (University of Fribourg) started the field work for his Master Thesis (2020-2021) focused on (1) History and extent of artificial afforestation in canton of Fribourg; (2) Distribution and characterization of all populations in canton of Fribourg; (3) A genetic study in order to assess the differences in genetic diversity between the artificial stands and natural populations.
Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Gregor Kozlowski (Department of Biology, University of Fribourg); Yann Fragnière (University of Fribourg & Service des forêts et de la nature FR, SFN); Dr. Felix Gugerli (WSL, Birmensdorf); Prof. Dr. Christian Parisod (Institute of Plant Sciences, University of Bern). In collaboration with: (1) Botanical Garden of the University of Fribourg (S. Bétrisey, B. Clément); (2) Natural History Museum Fribourg (Dr. P. Wandeler, Dr. E. Gerber); (3) Service des forêts et de la nature (SFN) of the Canton of Fribourg (Dominique Schaller, Pascal Sonnenwyl, Vincent Castella).
The forest in the valley of Bonaudon (situated in the southermost point of the Canton of Fribourg) belongs to the most important biodiversity hotspots in western Switzerland. Many endangered plant and animal species have found their refuge in this remote area (e.g. Cicerbita plumieri, Campanula latifolia, Cephalaria alpina, etc.). The forest is dominated by Acer pseudoplatanus trees (some of them very old) growing on steep and rocky slopes. Prof. G. Kozlowski's group carried out several inventories and spoke up since many years for conservation of this natural forest fragment. In 2015 the area was officially designated as a "Forest Reserve".
30 May 2015 - 31 January 2016
The exhibition at the Natural History Museum Fribourg (Switzerland), realized in collaboration with Design NG Tornay (Fribourg) presented the most emblematic trees and shrubs from the regions of Macaronesia, Colchis and Transcaucasia. The genus Zelkova as well as selected highlights of Project Zelkova was prominently featured in this exhibition.
Curator of the exhibition: Emanuel Gerber (NHMF)