Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mountain Summits In The Alps Becoming Increasingly Similar Due To Climate Change

Date:
December 4, 2007
Source:
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Summary:
Alpine summit vegetation will become increasingly homogenized as a result of climate change, say researchers. The biologists assessed data on the composition and species numbers of plants on the summits of seven mountains measuring over 3000 meters in the Bernina range in Switzerland over a period of almost 100 years.

Mountain summits in the Alps are losing biodiversity (photo location: Piz Languard).
Credit: Silje Berger/University of Hannover

Alpine summit vegetation will become increasingly homogenized as a result of climate change, say researchers from the University of Bayreuth and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research writing in the international Journal of Vegetation Science. The biologists assessed data on the composition and species numbers of plants on the summits of seven mountains measuring over 3000 metres in the Bernina range in Switzerland over a period of almost one hundred years.

Related Articles


They noticed that as a result of climate change, an upward shift of flora is taking place. This is increasing the number of species on the mountain summits studied, but also leading to an increasing homogenization of the species composition of Alpine summit vegetation. This means that species diversity within individual areas (‘alpha diversity’) is increasing, but that species diversity across ecosystems (‘beta diversity’) is declining.

Seen generally, biodiversity can decline for two main reasons: through the disappearance of species, or when specialised species are replaced by generalists. The resulting homogenization can lead to a reduction in regional biodiversity. Until now, the question of homogenization has, however, primarily been discussed in connection with the impacts of invasive species, and less in the context of climate change. The evaluation of the data from the Bernina range now puts this debate in a new light.

For their study, the two researchers analysed data from their colleague Gian-Reto Walther, who investigated the top ten metres of these summits in detail in 2003 and made notes of all the plants. They compared these records with surveys from the years 1907 and 1985. On average, the number of plant species rose from 10 to 28 species per summit. The increasing temperatures has evidently brought about a proper ‘summit meeting’.

More and more species are now forced to share the summits. At the last count in 2003, however, no species were found to have disappeared since 1907. By contrast, the differences between the summits declined significantly over the same period. Today the summits of the Minor range are not only more similar to each other, they are also more similar to the neighbouring Languard range than before, despite the fact that they are separated from each other within the Bernina Alps by the Val da Fain.

"This is a clear sign of the early stages of homogenization," says Gerald Jurasinski, a biogeographer from the University of Bayreuth. "We suspect that the accessibility and popularity of these summits among climbers is playing a role here – after all, seeds can also be carried on people’s clothes and shoes. But unfortunately there is not yet any data for this," remarks Jürgen Kreyling of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ. The two researchers hope their work will draw attention to the fact that biodiversity means more than species richness. The composition of the species spectrum, beta diversity and functional diversity also play an important role in functioning ecosystems. The University of Bayreuth is carrying out intensive research into this topic in collaboration with the UFZ, and this is also reflected in its courses, e.g. the Masters degree in Global Change Ecology, which forms part of the Bavarian Elite programme.

Journal reference: Jurasinski, Gerald & Kreyling, Jürgen (2007), Upward shift of alpine plants increases floristic similarity of mountain summits. Journal of Vegetation Science 18:711-718. doi: 10.3170/2007-8-18341


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Mountain Summits In The Alps Becoming Increasingly Similar Due To Climate Change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 December 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071130101159.htm>.
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. (2007, December 4). Mountain Summits In The Alps Becoming Increasingly Similar Due To Climate Change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071130101159.htm
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres. "Mountain Summits In The Alps Becoming Increasingly Similar Due To Climate Change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071130101159.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins