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Alma Piermattei

Alma Piermattei

Technical Laboratory Research Assistant, working with Prof Ulf Büntgen and Prof Christine S. Lane

I am fascinated by understanding past environmental and climate changes using proxy records such as tree rings, and tephra and cryptotephra layers. In particular, I explore environmental, climatic and genetic effects on tree growth and their wood anatomical features, and I contribute to tephra research projects mainly in eastern Africa.



  • 05.2017-present: Technical Laboratory Research Assistant, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, UK
  • 01.2016-12.2016: Post-doc, Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland. Project: Tree-ring variability, wood anatomy and genetic diversity of marginal Picea abies population in the Apennines (Italy).
  • 05.2015-12.2015: Post-doc, Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy. Project: Anatomical and dendroclimatic analysis of tree species growing on Apennine treeline
  • 01/02.2015-04/05.2015: Visiting researcher, Department of Ciências da Vida, University of Coimbra, Portugal. Project: Analysis of Intra-annual Density Fluctuations on wood cores of Pinus nigra
  • 01.2012-12.2014: PhD student, Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy. Curriculum in Forest Ecology and Forest Management
  • 10.2013-06.2014: Visiting student at the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR), University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona


  • 03.2015: PhD thesis, Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy: European black pine recolonization at high altitude in the central Apennines (Italy). Spatial and Temporal patterns. Supervisor: Prof. C. Urbinati.
  • 02.2010: Master degree in Agricultural Science and Technology, Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy. Master thesis: Expansion and growth dynamic of Pinus nigra Arn. above the timberline at Mt. Vettore (AP). Grade: summa cum laude, supervisor: Prof. C. Urbinati.
  • 10.2007: Bachelor degree in Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy. Bachelor thesis: La matricinatura a gruppi: un "vecchio" metodo per una "nuova" selvicoltura dei boschi cedui appenninici. Grade: summa cum laude, supervisors: Prof. C. Urbinati, Dr. G. Iorio.


  • 2015: SISEF for best oral presentation at the X National Conference SISEF. Firenze, Italy
  • 2012: Federazione Italiana Donne Arti Professioni Affari F.I.D.A.P.A. - Sezione "Ancona Riviera del Conero" for Master thesis


Member of the Climate and Environmental Dynamics group.

  • Paleoecology and paleoclimatology: long-term reconstructions using different proxies at different spatial and temporal scales
  • Forest ecology: disentangling the effect of environmental and genetics factors at marginal populations, using tree-ring width and wood anatomical features
  • Population ecology: assessing growth-climate relationships and genetics structure at different spatial scale: individual, stand and population levels
  • Treeline ecosystem: disentangling climate and anthropogenic drivers in Pyrenees and Apennines (Italy) areas
  • Vegetation dynamics: intra- and interannual growth responses
  • Wood anatomy: effect of climate on cells structure and cell lignification processes of conifers at treeline ecotones



  • Piermattei A, von Arx G, Avanzi C, Fonti P, Gärtner H, Piotti A, Urbinati C, Vendramin GG, Büntgen U, Crivellaro A 2020. Functional Relationships of Wood Anatomical Traits in Norway Spruce. Frontiers in Plant Science 11:683.

  • Avanzi C, Heer K, Büntgen U, Labriola M, Leonardi S, Opgenoorth L, Piermattei A, Urbinati C, Vendramin GG, Piotti A 2020. Individual reproductive success in Norway spruce natural populations depends on growth rate, age and sensitivity to temperature. Heredity 124: 685–698.

  • Piermattei A, Campelo F, Büntgen U, Crivellaro A, Garbarino M, Urbinati C 2020. Intra-annual density fluctuations (IADFs) in Pinus nigra (J. F. Arnold) at high-elevation in the central Apennines (Italy). Trees 34: 771–781.

  • Büntgen U, Liebhold A, Nievergelt D, Wermelinger B, Roques A, Reinig F, Krusic PJ, Piermattei A, Egli S, Cherubini P, Esper J 2020. Return of the moth: rethinking the effect of climate on insect outbreaks. Oecologia 192: 543–552.
  • Charpentier Ljungqvist F, Piermattei A, Seim A, Krusic PJ, Büntgen U, He M, Kirdyanov AV, Luterbacher J, Schneider L, Seftigen K, Stahle DV, Villalba R, Yang B, Esper J 2020. Ranking of tree-ring based hydroclimate reconstructions of the past millennium. Quaternary Science Reviews 230: 106074.
  • Charpentier Ljungqvist F, Thejlld P, Björklunde J, Gunnarsonf BE, Piermattei A, Rydvalh M, Seftigeni K, Støvek B, Büntgen U 2020. Assessing non-linearity in European temperature-sensitive tree-ring data. Dendrochronologia 59: 125652.


  • Büntgen U, Krusic PJ, Piermattei A, Coomes DA, Esper J, Myglan VS, Kirdyanov AV, Camarero JJ, Crivellaro A, Körner C 2019. Limited capacity of tree growth to mitigate the global greenhouse effect under predicted warming. Nature communications 10(1): 2171.
  • Avanzi C, Piermattei A, Piotti A, Büntgen U, Heer K, Opgenoorth L, Spanu I, Urbinati C, Vendramin GG, Leonardi S 2019. Disentangling the effects of spatial proximity and genetic similarity on individual growth performances in Norway spruce natural populations. Science of the Total Environment 650(1): 493-504.
  • Ferretti F, Alberti G, Badalamenti E, ... Piermattei A, ... Urbinati C, Vitali A, Pelleri F 2019. Boschi di neoformazione in Italia: approfondimenti conoscitivi e orientamenti gestionali. Rete Rurale Nazionale 2014-2020, Scheda n. 22.2.


  • Kirdyanov AV, Piermattei A, Kolář T, Rybníček M, Krusic PJ, Anatoly NN, Reinig F, Büntgen U 2018. Notes towards an optimal sampling strategy. Dendrochronologia 52: 162-166.
  • Heer K, Behringer D, Piermattei A, Bässler C, Brandl R, Fady B, Jehl H, Liepelt S, Lorch S, Piotti A, Vendramin GG, Weller M, Ziegenhagen B, Büntgen U, Opgenoorth L 2018. Linking dendroecology and association genetics in natural populations: stress responses archived in tree rings associate with SNP genotypes in silver fir (Abies alba Mill.). Mol. Ecol. 27: 1428–1438.
  • Büntgen U, Bolze N, Hellmann L, Sittler B, Frauenberger B, Piermattei A, Kirdyanov A, Schweingruber FH, Ludemann T, Krusic PJ 2018. Long-term recruitment dynamics of arctic dwarf shrub communities in coastal east Greenland. Dendrochronologia 50: 70–80.
  • Crivellaro A, Reverenna M, Ruffinatto F, Urbinati C, Piermattei A 2018. The anatomy of "blue ring" in the wood of Pinus nigra. Les/Wood 67(2): 21-28.


  • Vitali A, Camarero JJ, Garbarino M, Piermattei A, Urbinati C 2017. Deconstructing human-shaped treelines: Microsite topography and distance to seed source control Pinus nigra colonization of treeless areas in the Italian Apennines. Forest Ecology and Management 406: 37–45.
  • Piermattei A, Urbinati C, Tonelli E, Schöne BR, Eggertsson O, Levanič T, Kaczka R, Büntgen U 2017. Potential and limitation of combining terrestrial and marine growth records from Iceland. Global and Planetary Change 155: 213-224.
  • Touchan R, Anchukaitis KJ, Meko DM, Kerchouche D, Slimani S, Ilmen R, Hasnaoui F, Guibal F, Camarero JJ, Sánchez-Salguero R, Piermattei A, Sesbou A, Cook BI, Sabir M, Touchan H 2017. Climate controls on tree growth in the Western Mediterranean. The Holocene 1-14.
  • Urbinati C, Garbarino M, Vitali A, Piermattei A 2017. Il limite superiore del bosco negli Appennini. Dinamismi recenti negli ecotoni con Pinus spp. Sherwood, Foreste ed Alberi Oggi 227: 1-11


  • Piermattei A, Lingua E, Urbinati C, Garbarino M 2016. Pinus nigra anthropogenic treelines in the central Apennines shows common pattern of tree recruitment. European Journal of Forest Research 135 (6): 1119-1130.


  • Piermattei A, Crivellaro A, Carrer M, Urbinati C 2015. The ''blue ring'': anatomy and formation hypothesis of a new tree-ring anomaly in conifers. Trees 29(2): 613-620.


  • Piermattei A, Garbarino M, Urbinati C 2014. Structural attributes, tree-ring growth and climate sensitivity of Pinus nigra Arn. at high altitude: common patterns of a possible treeline shift in the central Apennines (Italy). Dendrochronologia 32: 210-219.


  • Piermattei A, Garbarino M, Renzaglia F, Urbinati C 2013. Climate Influence on the Expansion and Tree-Ring Growth of Pinus nigra L. at High Altitude in the Central Apennines. The Open Forest Science Journal 6 (Suppl 1:M6):54-56


  • Piermattei A, Renzaglia F, Urbinati C 2012. Recent expansion of Pinus nigra Arn. above the timberline in the central Apennines, Italy. Annals of Forest Science 69:509-517.
  • Urbinati C, Piermattei A 2012. La foresta camaldolese: il territorio, la gestione, i prodotti e i servizi in Foresta e monaci di Camaldoli in Un rapporto millenario tra gestione e conservazione by Urbinati C and Romano R. ISBN: 978-88-8145-326-9
  • Romano R, Marongiu S, Piermattei A 2012. Il monastero della Santa Croce di Fonte Avellana in Fonte Avellana: dall'agricoltura medioevale alla moderna multifunzionalità rurale, Romano R, Marongiu S. Osservatorio foreste. INEA. ISBN 978-88-8145-314-6


  • Piermattei A, Renzaglia F, Urbinati C 2010. Ricolonizzazione di pino nero sopra la treeline. Dinamismi spazio-temporali. Sherwood, Foreste ed Alberi Oggi 166: 5-9.


  • Demonstrator, Part IB, Fieldtrips (2019)
  • Demonstrator, Part IA, Geographical Skills and Methods: Statistical Methods (2018-2019)
  • Supervisor undergraduate thesis in Dendrochronology and Tephrochronology, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
  • Supervisor bachelor and master thesis, Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Ancona, Italy, and Department of TESAF, University of Padova, Italy

External activities

  • Member of ATR - Association for Tree-ring Research
  • 2019-present (year base) European Dendroecological FieldWeek. Organizers: Dr Treydte K, Dr Crivellaro A, Dr Kaczka R, Dr Piermattei A.
  • Peer Review Summary (
    Forests (8), Dendrochronologia (4), Forest Ecology and Management (1),
    Plant Ecology (formerly Vegetation) (1), Environment, Development and Sustainability (1), Journal of Mountain Science (1), Sustainability (1), Trees (1)
  • Participating at numerous fieldwork and summer schools on dendrochronology, wood anatomy, and data acquisition and data analysis