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.

Related Articles


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 October 30, 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 October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) — The Galapagos tortoise has made a stupendous recovery from the brink of extinction to a population of more than 1,000. But it still faces threats. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Can Drinking Milk Lead To Early Death?

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) — Researchers in Sweden released a study showing heavy milk drinkers face an increased mortality risk from a variety of causes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) — Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Oatmeal Healthy Recipes and Benefits

Buzz60 (Oct. 29, 2014) — Oatmeal is a fantastic way to start your day. Whichever way you prepare them, oats provide your body with many health benefits. In celebration of National Oatmeal Day, Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has a few recipe ideas, and tips on how to kickstart your day with this wholesome snack! Video provided by Buzz60
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