Gabrielle Picenni

Master in Biogeosciences

Research interests

Most of the previous attempts to reintroduce the endangered Lady’s slipper (Cypripedium calceolus L.) have failed, and part of the reasons for this is a lack of knowledge about its realized niche parameters. Taking place in the context of the Lady’s slipper conservation program in Switzerland, this project is the continuation of Olivia Rusconi’s master thesis (2017) and a part of her PhD studies.

The aim of the study is to have a better understanding of abiotic and biotic factors influencing this terrestrial orchid’s survival and distribution. As it has been noted, plant communities represent key indicators on a species survival and on the whole ecosystem functioning. Soil description is required to characterize the fundamental niche of a plant; it gives indications about the environmental conditions allowing the presence of a specific species.

For this master project, I will focus on plant communities and soil properties of Cypripedium calceolus L. populations in the Valais, Ticino and Grisons regions in Switzerland. The surrounding vegetation will be surveyed, and the neighboring rewarding plants identified. To characterize soil properties, several soil analyses will be pursued. In parallel, station parameters and plant traits will be measured. O. Rusconi’s
(2017) data on the Swiss Jura will be integrated in order to cover the whole country. A phylogenetic tree will be built to represent the relationships between the Lady’s Slipper’s populations in Switzerland and their evolution.

Main topics

  • Conservation biology
  • Orchids conservation
  • Orchids soil study
  • Orchids vegetation study
  • Orchids phylogeny
  • Cypripedium calceolus L.

Gabrielle Picenni



+41 32 718 23 15