Priority research topics 2024


  Enhancing Agricultural Sustainability through Smart Irrigation Systems (Lucia Bortolini,

Advances in irrigation technologies have revolutionized traditional agricultural practices, addressing challenges posed by water scarcity, climate change, and the need for increased food production. Smart irrigation systems have emerged as a promising solution to address these concerns by integrating cutting-edge technologies to monitor, analyze, and control the irrigation process efficiently. The adoption of smart irrigation systems has the potential to enhance crop yields, reduce water consumption, and alleviate the environmental stress caused by conventional irrigation methods. As the agricultural sector seeks innovative solutions to address the growing challenges of water scarcity and climate change, smart irrigation stands out as a transformative technology contributing to the resilience and sustainability of global food production. Smart irrigation technologies can be addressed even by site specific management practice such as precision irrigation. Precision irrigation involves tailoring water delivery to specific crop needs based on factors like soil type, topography, and plant growth stages. GNSS technology and advanced mapping tools enable farmers to create customized irrigation plans. Among the most challenging advances irrigation methods and technology the research should be focused on several technologies such as sustainable irrigation systems which is able to ensure higher water use efficiency and more uniform water distribution, promoting healthier crops and reducing water consumption. These technologies aim to minimize water wastage and maximizing roots absorption.The research may be focused on the study on the application of Smart Irrigation Technology in real farms by performing farm trials. The research may study the application of this technology in different climatic zones. By way for examples smart irrigation may be used to reduce the negatives effects climate change (e.g. drought, saltwater intrusion).

  Nature and stability of red wine colloids (Andrea Curioni,

Colloidal stability is a critical aspect of red wine quality, affecting both technological and sensory attributes. In particular the so-called “coloured matter precipitation” during red wine storage is a poorly understood occurrence, although being obviously related to colloidal phenomena, which, in turn, also need to be elucidated. Therefore, the project has the following aims: (i) improving knowledge on the factors and the mechanisms involved in determining the colloidal status of red wines, this being an almost unexplored field of research, (ii) understanding the reasons for red wines colloidal instability and colour precipitation and (iii) developing effective methods for assessment of red wines instability and for its prevention. To solve these problems the research will investigate the actors and the conditions involved in colloids formation in red wines, such as proteins, polysaccharides, phenolics, wine composition, physical-chemical parameters, all key factors impacting colloidal stability, and developing novel methodologies for its assessment and improvement.

  Sediment-transfer processes and their frequency in headwater catchments: what is the role of the hydro-geomorphological settings? (Vincenzo D'Agostino,

The project aims to investigate how sediment transfer from the hillslopes through the headwater channels is influenced – in terms of process types and their frequency of occurrence – by hydrological and geomorphological conditions. Specifically, the study will consider contrasting catchments in terms of hydrological processes (nivo-glacial, nival and pluvial regimes, etc.), lithology (metamorphic vs sedimentary or volcanic), geomorphological setting (formerly glaciated vs unglaciated), and slope. Methods will include field monitoring, use of DoD techniques where possible, analysis of repeated aerial images within a GIS system, and will regard both multi-decadal and pre-post event analysis. The project’s outcomes will provide important insights into the magnitude-frequency assessment of sediment inputs to the channel network, both in case of extreme hydrological events and in ordinary conditions. The outcomes will also contribute to the development of a guideline framework for sustainable eco-hydrological management of headwater channels.

  The study of debris-flow avulsion phenomena in the area of Fiames (Dolomites, Eastern Italian Alps) (Carlo Gregoretti,

Debris flows are impulsive solid-liquid mixtures that starting at the base of cliffs route downstream at high velocity. These phenomena initiate when abundant runoff delivered by cliffs after high intensity rainfalls impact debris deposits (Berti and Simoni, 2005). Therefore, the main factors for debris-flow triggering are the abundant runoff occurring after usually high intensity storms, and sediment availability. The occurrence frequency of debris flows is increasing due to the climate change. Climate change induces an increase of high intensity storms (Bollschweiler and Stoffel, 2010) that provides abundant runoff and cliff failures (Stoffel eta l., 2014; Rengers et al., 2020) as well as causes the permafrost degradation (Damm and Felderer, 2013), that provide the sediment availability. The formed solid-liquid surge routes downstream entraining sediment and increasing its volume up to ten times (Simoni et al., 2020). The large transported volumes of sediment and their high velocities, make debris flows a very destructive phenomenon. In this context, the study of debris-flow avulsion phenomena (De Haas et al., 2018), plays an important role both for the design of hazard maps showing the most dangerous locations and for the analysis of the performance of planned countermeasures. This project points to identify the geological and geomorphological conditions for which avulsion phenomena can occur and the maximum the avulsed flow path. In particular the scope of present project is to identify relationships between avulsion locations and channel characteristics, constrain the controlling factors on avulsion, assess the probability that avulsion will occur at specified locations, and develop a method to predict avulsion locations. The test bed area is the fans of Fiames (Cortina d’Ampezzo, Eastern Italian Alps).

  Host plant–pathogen–vector interactions: short- and long-term impact on declining oak ecosystems (Benedetto T. Linaldeddu,

Over the past decades, oak ecosystems have been seriously impacted by severe decline phenomena and extensive mortality events, revealing the high vulnerability of these formations. In particular, some species within the genera Diplodia and Phytophthora are considered a major threat to Mediterranean oak species. In addition, to plant pathogenic fungi and oomycetes, several wood-boring insects can also contribute to oak decline onset. In particular, xylophagous insects are frequently implicated in oak declines in the Mediterranean region. Despite the serious damage caused by these pests and pathogens, until now, limited information is available regarding the ecological interactions among xylophagous insects and the main oak pathogens Diplodia corticola and Phytophthora cinnamomi. Therefore, given the alarming expansion of oak decline events in Italy and the limited information about the ecological interactions among insects and pathogens, it is scientifically relevant to expand knowledge on these relationships and in particular: 1) to evaluate the ecological interactions among plants, pathogens and insects, 2) to identify the determinants that contribute to invasiveness of plant pathogenic species with particular emphasis on the role of xylophagous insects as vectors, 3) to assess abiotic factors associated with pathogens and insect incidence at site-level and 4) to ascertain the ability of exotic insects to acquire microorganisms from the invaded environment and the factors that influence the take-up of new microorganisms.

  Mycovirus-mediated hypovirulence in Botryosphaeriaceae and Phytophthora species (Lucio Montecchio,

Several species within the Botryosphaeriaceae family and Phytophthora genus are emerging as invasive pathogens on a global scale. Because of their lifestyle and their adaptation to a wide range of environmental conditions, these pathogens constitute a serious threat to agriculture e forest ecosystems, especially in the current context of climate change. Currently there are no effective control strategies for these microorganisms. A possible solution could be provided by new strategies based on mycovirus-mediated hypovirulence. It is known that some mycoviruses can induce hypovirulence in their host fungi and have a great potential to act as biological control agents. Given the alarming decline and mortality affecting forest trees in Italy and the limited information on management strategies, this research proposal will be focused on identification of mycoviruses affecting Botryosphaeriaceae and Phytophthora species with the potential to confer hypovirulent traits and get new insights into the molecular bases of these fungus−virus interactions. This knowledge can be also exploited to generate or manipulate the virus-fungus combinations to improve their properties in biological control. At the same time, the effectiveness of mycoviruses to modified pathogen life style and the disease symptomatology and severity in field conditions will be explored. This will allow to develop optimal biocontrol formulations and delivery methods.

  Enhancing Value Chains for Traditional Agri-Food Products in Mountainous Marginal Areas (Francesco Pagliacci,

Mountainous marginal areas face unique economic, social, and demographic challenges, with the agri-food sector struggling with fierce competition amidst a complex landscape. Enhancing the value of traditional agri-food products through new brands, certifications, and more structured cooperation initiatives offers a pathway to economic revitalization while ensuring sustainable agriculture and promoting rural and slow tourism. This PhD proposal aims to investigate strategies to enhance the value of traditional agri-food products in mountainous marginal areas, focusing on the Veneto region and considering small-scale productions (e.g., berries, medicinal plants, ancient grain varieties). Research objectives include: i) analysing the competitive landscape, identifying factors influencing the success and challenges of the agri-food sector; ii) assessing the effectiveness of introducing recognized brands and certifications (e.g., organic certification and geographical indications); iii) exploring collaboration strategies among producers (e.g., cooperative, producer districts, network contracts); iv) investigate consumer preferences and willingness to pay premiums. The methodologies to be implemented encompass literature review (including main EU policies) qualitative research (interviews and focus groups with farmers, producers, and stakeholders; SWOT analysis) and quantitative analysis (surveys to consumers and tourists).

  Structural and physiological characteristics of Picea abies Karst. Trees suitable to attack by the bark beetle Ips typographus L. (Giai Petit,

The rise in temperature and frequency of droughts has facilitated widespread bark beetle epidemics in various regions worldwide, leading to extensive forest die-offs. In the Eastern Alps, the Norway spruce forests are under heavy attack by Ips typographus L., triggered by the windthrows from the Vaia storm and subsequent dry years. This beetle feeds on phloem tissues in both adult and larval stages. Recent studies revealed that both phloem structure and the contained sugary solution adjust to environmental changes, with possible cascade effects on xylem water transport, CO2 assimilation and transport of non-structural carbohydrates from leaves to roots. At present, no research addressed the specific phloem conditions that possibly predispose trees to bark beetle attacks. This PhD project aims to investigate the hydric status of adult Norway spruce trees and its correlation with xylem and phloem physiology. The proposed research includes: 1- Comparing healthy and potentially attacked trees by:

- Monitoring the tree physiological status using sapflow sensors and stem dendrometers; - Performing physiological measurements of leaf water potential, gas exchange, native embolism (i.e., the loss of xylem functionality due to critical xylem hydric status), and bark osmotic potential throughout the growing season; - Analyzing the anatomical development of xylem and phloem tissues; 2. Conducting retrospective stem analyses on heavily attacked and healthy trees to discern short- and long-term patterns in xylem anatomy (xylem and phloem development are coordinated). Sampling and physiological measurements will occur during the growing season, requiring the candidate to possess a valid driver's license for fieldwork. Anatomical analyses will be conducted during periods without field activities.

  Mapping fuel models and canopy fuels for wildfire management: a multi-scale, multi-sensor, multi-model approach (Francesco Pirotti,

Latest geomatic technologies, e.g. SLAM, portable/mobile laser scanners, drone LiDAR, new Earth observation products etc... allow to collect dense spatial geo-information related to fuel models (Scott & Burgan 2005) and canopy vertical structure. This is a key information for wildfire hazard mapping and wildfire simulations. Numerous investigations have dealt with converting data, surveyed from multiple sensors at very different time and spatial scales, to useful information, but standard protocols are still far from being thoroughly tested and accepted. Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are providing improvements in modelling for classification and regression, especially paired with latest developments in High Processing Computing (HPC), but should be used with a rigorous knowledge regarding expected uncertainties.

In this PhD project the candidate will train on surveying forest environments with multiple sensors and on the processing chain from raw geodata to geolocated 3D models, i.e. where/when/what is. Two main parts will be addressed in the research. The first part will be on methods for data integration of field-surveys with existing and new Earth observation platforms, such as the GEDI laser in the international space station, the new Italian IRIDE constellation, NASA/ISRO's NISAR and ESA's Biomass - multi-band RADAR missions. The second will be on methods for the creation of high-resolution fuel maps from the data-integration step using, but not limited to, AI, with a focus on best-practices of using HPC for optimal calculation. A last-but-not-least aspect that the candidate will deal with will be the corresponding uncertainty of the map, which will be calculated from rigorous error propagation methods.

  Exploring consumer behavior in wine purchasing and experiences: integrating neuroscience technologies and consumer behavior science (Samuele Trestini,

Recent years have seen an explosion in the use of neuroscience techniques in consumer science, with applications both in marketing research and in the improvement of research methods. The use of neuroimaging and psychophysiological tools for marketing purposes is usually labeled as consumer neuroscience (mostly used in academia) or neuromarketing.
The aim of this project is to investigate the complexities of human decision-making in wine-related contexts, utilizing neuroscience as an innovative approach to analyze factors influencing wine consumer behavior.
Consumer neuroscience, employing psychological insights and neuroscientific methods, using advanced technologies such as eye tracking and skin conductance measurement, enhances precision in understanding consumers’ behavior.
Besides this, the application of neuroscience is useful to understand how the methodology in conducting experimental studies, like tasting sessions or experimental economics, may affect the result of the experiment, improving the methodology in applying consumer science studies.
The combination of neuroscientific methods and advanced technologies, together with consumer behavior theories, sheds light on connections between cognitive, emotional, and physiological processes, significantly contributing to understanding and predicting consumer motivations in the wine world, offering a nuanced perspective on neuromarketing applications.
The main area of application of this research, besides the potential in producing new results useful for the general applications in neuromarketing, will be the wine sector.
The project will apply a multidisciplinary approach by integrating consumer behavior theory applied in economics with oenology and wine testing science.

  Technological synergies and digitalization to promote agricultural and livestock mechanization and automation (Luigi Sartori,

This research aims to dissect the intricate interplay between various technological innovations and their impact on farming practices, with a focus on improving efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. The application of smart technologies in agriculture is becoming an outstanding technique. Smart sensors are used in field to monitor soil, plants, and climate to provide valuable information for farmers and consultant. Similarly, farm machineries, production facilities and animals’ recovery are equipped with digital sensors and actuators which helps to detect equipment energy consumption, malfunctions, and working activities.
To begin, the project will map out the current state of mechanization and automation within agriculture, identifying key technologies in use, such as precision agriculture tools and robotic. A core objective is to identify and analyze synergies between different technologies (IoT devices, AI, machine learning algorithms, and digital tools can work in concert to enhance agricultural outputs. The research will study how digitalization acts as a promoter for innovation and transformation in the sector, facilitating smarter decision-making, optimizing resource use, and reducing environmental impact. The research will understand the barriers to adoption and will identify enablers that can accelerate the integration of these technologies into agricultural practices. To achieve these goals the PhD project will implements case studies and experimental designs to test and validate the effectiveness of technological synergies in real-world settings. In the framework of climate-smart agriculture the research will evaluate the sustainability benefits and economic implications of adopting advanced technological solutions, aiming to build a compelling case for wider adoption. The project will employ a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative data analysis, qualitative case studies, and modelling to understand the impacts and potentials of technology in agriculture.

  Biodiversity and Life Cycle Assessment for sustainable afforestation (Tommaso Sitzia,

The PhD project aims to analyse biodiversity and apply Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to evaluate and compare the environmental impact of two different forest cover creation methodologies: through nursery plantations and via spontaneous regeneration, focusing on semi-natural and peri-urban areas. The analysis will not only focus on traditional practices but also on the incorporation of alien tree species such as black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), which are particularly adaptable to peri-urban areas. Although alien, these tree species can provide vital ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration and soil quality enhancement. Furthermore, their spontaneous growth may result in a lower LCA impact compared to conventional plantation methods.
The project will concentrate on comparing the ecological footprint of afforestation methodologies through an in-depth analysis of biodiversity, examining variations in soil composition and biotic components. A detailed sampling plan will be implemented to monitor differences between areas afforested with native species and those with alien species or a mix of alien and native, ensuring the collection of representative data.
Supported by a solid foundation of previous research by the supervisors and adequate funding, this study aims to outline afforestation strategies that balance environmental sustainability with ecosystem benefits, offering valuable insights for the sustainable management of forest covers in semi-natural and peri-urban areas. The goal is to contribute to the development of guidelines to promote reforestation practices that effectively respond to contemporary environmental challenges, while also valorising the potential of alien tree species in an urban context.

  Economic valuation of the multifunctional role of water: a tool for the definition of optimal tariffs (Mara Thiene,

Water is a multifunctional resource which provides a variety of ecosystem services, from provisioning services for agricultural and urban uses to habitat for aquatic species. In Italy, however, this role is scarcely reflected in tap water tariffs, which are mostly based on technical parameters, investment, and environmental costs. Furthermore, the definition of tariffs does not typically account for consumers’ preferences, their adoption of measures for water conservation and reuse, and application of smart technologies for household water management.
Given the above background, the proposal aims at estimating the economic, environmental and social value of the ecosystem services provided by water that is used in water supply networks. To this end, non-market valuation techniques will be adopted (such as Choice Experiments). Data will be collected via a survey addressing a representative sample of consumers. This will allow to investigate population’s preferences towards quality attributes of tap water, improvement of provisioning/management services as well as water ecosystem services. The output of the socio-economic analysis will allow to inform the definition of tap water tariffs better aligned to the social and environmental value of such resource.


  Agriculture, forest and food economics and policy

  1. Economics and policy for resilient agriculture and forest management.
    Agricultural and forest economics and policy need to be innovated, for more resilient societies in Europe and worldwide. Particular attention is given to the Common Agricultural Policy analysis and other sectoral policies, impact assessments on farms and forest managers' economics, organization and resilience, rural development, market functioning, organic farming, innovative forest management, agri-environmental measures adoption, and risk management strategies and tools. (Rossetto, Trestini, Pagliacci, Stefani, Cei, Giampietri, Pettenella, Masiero, Gatto, Pisani, Grilli, Secco).

  2. The food and the agri-food world.
    Competitiveness and innovation of food products and agri-food chains are crucial to promote food products on global markets. Relevant topics of interest in this research field are: consumers' behaviour towards food quality attributes related to environmental sustainability and production methods (e.g. organic farming), new food products, nutrition and health-related issues, as well as alternative food networks and policy and labelling tools such as food claims, Geographical Indications, property rights protection. (Rossetto, Pomarici, Trestini, Pagliacci, Giampietri, Thiene, Franceschinis, Vecchiato, Tempesta, Stefani, Cei, Paganizza).

  3. The wine market in Italy and worldwide: a sustainability perspective.
    Assessing market dynamics and the impact of sectoral policies on wine economics is crucial to support this relevant sector. International market analysis and the impact of national regulations, taxation, and trade agreement on wine market, as well as organizational factors affecting wine supply chain performance, including quality and quantity policy adopted by producers’ organizations, need to be understood. Factors related to the adoption of more sustainable (environmental and social) solutions and market opportunities for more sustainable grape and wine production need to be identified (Pomarici, Galletto, Rossetto, Trestini, Giampietri).

  4. Advanced methods for land and real estate valuation.
    Innovative methods for the analysis of land and real estate values such as Standard Hedonic Pricing Models, Spatial Autoregressive Models, Quantile Regression, Machine Learning and Big Data analysis have to be developed, tested and applied to deepen the scientific knowledge on their implications and their interactions with environmental quality and environmental policies. (Tempesta, Thiene, Vecchiato, Franceschinis).

  5. Valuing natural resources for more informed decision-making towards sustainability.
    Economic valuation of natural resources, non-market goods, and ecosystem services is functional to provide crucial information to support decisions of both public and private actors. Special attention is given to the demand of nature-based tourist-recreational and cultural ecosystem services, as well as forest-based regulating services considering environmental and social sustainability. (Tempesta, Thiene, Vecchiato, Franceschinis, Gatto, Pettenella, Secco, Grilli, Masiero, Pisani).

  6. Innovations for a forest-based bioeconomy.
    Forests are expected to have a growing role in the bioeconomy at national and global levels. Relevant topics of research interest are related to analysing at the global and local scales the policy framework, market trends, social and environmental responsibility associated with the development of a forest-based bioeconomy, with a focus on innovative wood products (e.g., engineered wood products, man-made cellulose fibers, bioplastics etc.) as well as non-wood (i.e., wild) products and services. (Pettenella, Masiero, Gatto).

  7. Transformative processes and Green Transition in Forests and the Environment.
    The current socio-economic and environmental crises call for an urgent reconceptualization of the relations between natural and institutional-social-human capitals, with special attention to forest resources. Research can contribute through multi-level policy evaluation and governance analysis in urban, peri-urban and rural areas, with a focus on policy instruments coordination, innovative entrepreneurial tools and activities, property rights and other legal- and institutional-related issues. (Gatto, Secco, Pisani, Pagliacci, Masiero, Paganizza).

  Forest ecology and forest management

    1. Forest dynamics and natural disturbance ecology.
      Analysis of forest stands development, assessment and modelling of mortality processes, facilitation and competition mechanisms, and regeneration dynamics in a context of climate change. Old growth forest characterization and identification. Allometric approaches for assessing the degree of disturbance in different forests. Analyses and modelling of natural disturbances impacts in forest ecosystems and post-disturbance dynamics. Soil biodiversity and ecosystem services. (T. Anfodillo, M. Carrer, E. Lingua, G.Petit).

    2. Forest management.
      In a context of global change, implementation of sustainable forest management strategies, adaptive management and  agro-forestry systems for biomass and quality timber production. Management of protected area, forest biodiversity conservation and management both inside and outside Natura 2000 ecological network. Implementing and monitoring silvicultural interventions for natural disturbance prevention and impact mitigation. (T. Anfodillo, E. Lingua, T. Sitzia).

    3. Forest ecology and ecophysiology.
      Plants responses to abiotic and biotic stress analysed using physiological measurements (e.g., sapflow, leaf gas exchange, xylem vulnerability to air embolism), quantitative xylem and phloem anatomy (e.g., number and size of conducting elements, thickness of xylem cell walls), measurements of common morphological traits (e.g., stem diameter, tree height, crown size). Allometric approaches are used to define optimality principles shaping the hydraulic structure of trees (e.g., xylem/phloem widening in leaves, stems, roots) and the structure of forest ecosystem; dendroecological approaches are used to assess climate-growth relationships from time series of tree ring traits. (T. Anfodillo, M. Carrer, D.Castagneri, G.Petit).

    4. Forest analysis.
      Forest structure analysis by LiDAR and optical data, Soil ecology and radiative balance, Analysis of forest parameters using remote sensing and geographic information systems. (F.Pirotti, E.Lingua, A. Zanella).

    5. Geomatics for forest and the environment.
      Measuring via sensing (remote and close-range) of natural and man-made environments; 3D models for virtual/augmented reality of scenery, active (SAR/InSAR/PolSAR/LiDAR) and passive remote sensing for Earth Observation (EO), spatio-temporal analysis of big-data via High Performance Computing applied to sensed data. (F.Pirotti).

    6. Urban forestry.
      Landscape-forest patterns and processes in urban and suburban areas. Urban forests biodiversity and recreational use. (P. Semenzato, T. Sitzia).

    7. Forest landscape restoration.
      Monitoring and assessment of forest recovery and restoration by natural regeneration and afforestation activities. Implementation of restoration strategies using assisted regeneration and applied nucleation concepts. Restoration of forest cover in stands affected by high severity disturbances by using biological legacies. (T. Sitzia, E. Lingua).

    8. Wood technologies.
      Wood characterization and synthesis of bio-based adhesives and preservatives for enhancing its properties by producing eco-friendly but also performing timber composites. Evaluation of the environmental impact of different materials and process through life-cycle assessment  (LCA) tools. (G.Tondi, T.Urso, M.Zanetti).

    9. Forest planning and landscape ecology.
      The study of forest landscape patterns and its relationship with planning and management of land uses in the framework of landscape ecological methods and tools. (E. Lingua, P. Semenzato, T. Sitzia).

    10. Biodiversity monitoring  and conservation in different ecosystems.
      Relationship between biodiversity and degree of disturbance in forest ecosystems; effects of direct and indirect human activities on biodiversity decline; management and conservation of blue infrastructures; loss and modification of wetlands and effects on biodiversity in mountain areas; implementation of practices for restoring wetlands and increasing biodiversity (Anfodillo T, Sitzia T, Campagnaro T)

  Water resources, land and soil conservation

  1. Erosion, debris flows and sediment transport in mountain watersheds: from processes and landform analysis to risk management, accounting for climate change.
    Monitoring and modeling of landslides, debris flows and debris floods occurrence including the rainfalls and its statistical extremes. Analysis of the impact of these phenomena for the scenario corresponding to the climate change. Risk mitigation measures: from active (early warning system) to passive (open check dams and retention basins). (M.A.Lenzi, L. Picco, V.D’Agostino, C.Gregoretti, M. Borga, P.Tarolli, A.Guarnieri).

  2. Fluvial morphology, riparian vegetation, streams dynamics and restoration.
    Analyses on the morphodynamics of riverine corridors from the mountain to the lowlands. Monitoring of the interactions between riparian vegetation, channel morphology, and fluxes (water, sediment, and wood). Defining mitigation strategies for reducing risks in correspondence of critical sections (ie, bridges and embanked reaches), or to improve the general condition of the overall state of the river system (i.e., restoration). (L.Picco, M.A.Lenzi, V.D’Agostino, C.Gregoretti).

  3. Soil, Water and Society.
    Economic losses caused by hydrological extremes, such as floods and droughts, are exacerbating because of increased anthropogenic activities and global environmental changes. The topic aims to understand how individuals and communities interact with hydrological extremes to develop effective strategies for disaster risk reduction. (P.Tarolli, M.Borga, V.D’Agostino).

  4. Forest hydrology and ecohydrology.
    Analysis of the hydrological response of mountain catchments at the seasonal and event timescale by considering variations due to climate change, monitoring and modeling of water fluxes in the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum by using environmental tracers (stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen, major ions), analysis of the hydrological connectivity of intermittent streams during dry and wet conditions. (G.Zuecco, M.Borga).

  5. Cryospheric processes and water resources in a warming climate.
    Climatic sensitivity of mountain snow, glaciers and permafrost investigated by historical analyses and reconstructions, current response monitoring, and process understanding. Investigation and modelling of future cryosphere-related changes in water resources, slope instability and environmental conditions. (L. Carturan, M.Borga).

  6. Assessment of drought impact in agriculture: monitoring and mitigation strategies (P. Tarolli, M. Borga, V.D’Agostino).
    The project aims to investigate drought with its possible direct and indirect impacts in agriculture. The research focus ranges from farm to continental scales. Different agricultural landscapes, from lowland areas to steep slopes, will be considered in the analysis. In addition, sustainable solutions for mitigation of impacts and definition of adaptation strategies will be explored, including Nature Based Solutions.

  Technologies and operations for Agriculture, Forestry, Food and Livestock Plants

  1. Sustainable wood harvesting in mountain forests.
    Precision forestry and digital solutions for the implementation of more sustainable wood harvesting operations in mountain forests in the frame of the climate change impacts. Novel applications based on Machine learning and Artificial intelligence are the main stream characterizing the research approach. (Grigolato S., Cavalli R., Marchi L.).

  2. Sustainable and digital approaches to agricultural technologies.
    Precision agriculture and digital solutions in agriculture, viticulture, water, and urban green management for enhancing sustainability in changing climate scenarios. Artificial intelligence and machine learning for advanced operations management and farm machinery. (Sartori L., Bortolini L., Marinello F., Sozzi M.).

  3. Development of mechanical and digital technologies to enhance food quality.
    Novel application of mechanical devices, sensors, digital solutions, and data analysis to increase safety, security, and nutrient profile of foods. More sustainable food production processes through the application of technology. (Guerrini L.).

  4. Innovative Systems/Technologies in Livestock and Bioenergy Production.
    Precision Livestock Farming (PLF), Digital and Automated Technologies for increased efficiency and reduced environmental impact. Bioresource Management and Valorisation (Bioenergy and sustainable biorefinery approaches) from agricultural and livestock systems. Utilisation of Remote Sensing and Spatial Data in Livestock/Energy Bioresource Supply Chain Research. (Pezzuolo A.).

  Enology, food quality and nutrition

  1. Novel foods, food processing and nutrition.
    Development of novel foods. Novel bioactive food ingredients.  Functional properties of food macromolecules; Innovative techniques for food production and preservation; Food physics and rheology. Sensory analysis. Food and nutrition: food digestibility, functional and fortified foods. (G. Pasini, A. Curioni, G. Lomolino, M.Marangon).

  2. Comprehending and managing wine quality.
    Wine macromolecules and colloids. Wine stability. Sustainable wine production systems. Innovation in sparkling winemaking. Proteomics and metabolomics of grapes and wines. Enological potential of disease-resistant grape varieties. Wine sensory analysis. Novel processing aids and additives for winemaking. Data management. (A. Curioni, S. Vincenzi, G. Lomolino, M. Marangon, R. Flamini).

  3. Circular economy for the food and wine sectors.
    Valorization of by-products from the agri-food sector: novel extraction methods, chemical and functional characterization of extracts and their use as a source of novel food ingredients. (A. Curioni, S. Vincenzi, G. Lomolino, M. Marangon, G. Pasini).

  Forest Pathology

  1. Engineered mycelium-based composite materials for environmental sustainability.
    Mycelium-based materials have the potential to contribute to the circular bioeconomy by replacing petroleum-based products and converting lignocellulosic wastes into value-added products. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).

  2. Patterns of invasive forest pathogens dispersal by insects.
    The spread of fungal pathogens relies on complex interactions between host, vector (passive or active) and pathogen. Invasive insect-vectored pathogens pose one of the greatest threats to forest ecosystems. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).

  3. The impact of climate change on forest tree diseases.
    Environmental changes are occurring on a global scale, but their effects are most pronounced in climate change hotspots. In the Mediterranean area canker causing agents such as Botryosphaeriaceae seem to thrive under warmer and drier conditions. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).

  4. Emerging Phytophthora-related diseases in the subalpine European vegetation.
    The recent discovery of new Phytophthora species and diseases in alpine and subalpine ecosystems in Europe is of great concern. More explorations in the canopies of shrub and trees are needed to elucidate the diversity, host associations and Phytophthora lifestyles in these as yet under-explored habitats. (Montecchio L., Linaldeddu B.).