Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mountain ranges may act as 'safe haven' for species facing climate change

Date:
January 19, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Swiss researchers studying the projected effects of climate change on alpine plant species have discovered that mountain ranges may represent a "safer" place to live during changing climate conditions. The research finds that the habitat diversity of mountain ranges offer species "refuge habitats" which may be important for conservation.

Swiss researchers studying the projected effects of climate change on alpine plant species have discovered that mountain ranges may represent a 'safer' place to live during changing climate conditions. The research, published in the Journal of Biogeography, finds that the habitat diversity of mountain ranges offer species 'refuge habitats' which may be important for conservation.

The research, led by Daniel Scherrer and Christian Körner from the University of Basel, Switzerland, was carried out over two seasons in the Swiss Central Alps at 2500m. The authors used a high resolution infrared camera and hundreds of soil sensors to monitor the actual temperature experienced by plants in alpine landscapes.

The authors used known 'indicator values' for thermal preferences of plant species permitted to link microhabitat life conditions with biodiversity, the number and abundance of species.

"In this study we examined if different vegetation types and plant species occur under different micro-habitat temperatures," said Körner. "We also estimated the potential loss and shift in abundance of micro-habitat temperatures under a warming climate scenario."

"Comparing various slopes, the study made it obvious that slope exposure and ruggedness of terrain produce a broad spectrum of life conditions not seen over similar areas in forests or in the forelands and plains," said Scherrer. "While it was known from measurements with thermometers that plant and air temperatures can differ substantially in alpine terrain, the high degree of sustained thermal contrasts among habitats still came as a surprise."

Depending on exposure, low stature alpine vegetation warms up dramatically when the sun is out, but under cloudy weather part of that warmth remains stored in the soil, which also makes nights cosier for roots in many places.

"We found that the occurrences of plant species across these mosaics of warmth match with their known temperature preferences," explained Körner. "This means that rugged alpine terrain offers refuge habitats -- or at least stepping stones to these -- at short distance, for both small plants and animals that prefer cool life conditions."

The authors simulated the frequency of certain temperatures for a 2 degrees warmer climate with a computer, and found that only 3% of all types of temperature conditions will disappear. So, while the extent of some of the cooler habitats will shrink, importantly, they will not be lost altogether.

The authors found that warm habitats become more frequent, and new, warmer habitats will become established, so habitat diversity will in fact increase. The study also illustrates that weather station data is not a suitable basis for projecting future life conditions of organisms in such high elevation terrain.

"We suggest that alpine terrain is, for the majority of species a much 'safer' place to live under conditions of climate warming, compared to flat terrain, which offers no short-distance escapes from the changing temperatures," said Scherrer.

"It is known from earlier geological periods that mountains were always important for survival of species during periods of climatic change such as in glacial cycles, because of their 'habitat diversity,'" concluded Körner. "Mountains are therefore particularly important areas for the conservation of biodiversity in a given region under climatic change and thus deserve particular protection."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel Scherrer, Christian Körner. Topographically controlled thermal-habitat differentiation buffers alpine plant diversity against climate warming. Journal of Biogeography, 2010; DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2010.02407.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Mountain ranges may act as 'safe haven' for species facing climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101109102718.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, January 19). Mountain ranges may act as 'safe haven' for species facing climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101109102718.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Mountain ranges may act as 'safe haven' for species facing climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101109102718.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) — New England farms are seeing a surge in younger farm hands as the 'buy local' food movement grows across the country. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Drug Used To Treat 'Ebola's Cousin' Shows Promise

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — An experimental drug used to treat Marburg virus in rhesus monkeys could give new insight into a similar treatment for Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Terrifying City-Dwelling Spiders Are Bigger And More Fertile

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) — According to a new study, spiders that live in cities are bigger, fatter and multiply faster. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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