Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

European mountain plant population shows delayed response to climate change

Date:
May 7, 2012
Source:
University of Vienna
Summary:
A modeling study from the European Alps suggests that population declines to be observed during the upcoming decades will probably underestimate the long-term effects of recent climate warming on mountain plants. A European team of ecologists has presented a new modeling tool to predict migration of mountain plants which explicitly takes population dynamic processes into account.

Trifolium pallescens, Stubaier Alps.
Credit: Copyright Stefan Dullinger

A modeling study from the European Alps suggests that population declines to be observed during the upcoming decades will probably underestimate the long-term effects of recent climate warming on mountain plants. A European team of ecologists around Stefan Dullinger from the Department of Conservation Biology, Vegetation and Landscape Ecology of the University of Vienna presents a new modeling tool to predict migration of mountain plants which explicitly takes population dynamic processes into account.

Their results are published in Nature Climate Change.

Plant species are expected to respond to a warming climate by moving their ranges pole-wards or up-wards in mountains. Previous attempts to predict such range shifts have made several simplifying assumptions leading to large uncertainties about the impending loss of mountain plant populations.

In their study published in "Nature Climate Change" a European team of ecologists uses a new modeling approach which relaxes some of these assumptions. The authors apply this approach to simulate how 150 high mountain plant species will migrate from their current distribution in the Alps across this mountain range in response to 21st century climate trends. The results indicate that by the end of the 21st century the Alpine high mountain flora will lose on average 44 to 50% of its current distribution area, a fairly moderate forecast as compared to predictions achieved from more traditional modeling techniques.

However, the new approach also suggests that rapid climate trends foreseen for this century will likely outpace species' range shifts considerably. In particular, many of the plant populations predicted to persist in the near future will actually do so under local climate conditions that are already unsuitable for their long-term survival because long live spans and clonal reproduction strategies of many high mountain plants allow them to retard extinction.

"These results warn against drawing over-optimistic conclusions from the relatively modest loss of mountain plant populations likely to be observed during the coming decades," says Stefan Dullinger from the University of Vienna, "because the final consequences of climate warming on plant distribution in the Alps will only become realized with a delay of decades or even centuries."

In addition, the researchers found plants endemic to the European Alps, that is those which do not occur anywhere else, to be particularly sensitive to climate impacts. Up to 75% of these species might face a reduction of their ranges by more than 80% of their current distribution because they often have particularly low dispersal capacities and occur in lower marginal mountain chains, which might turn into climatic traps under warming. "This is particularly worrisome because endemic plants represent a natural heritage unique to a region and their loss is hence irreversible," added Karl Hülber from the Vienna Institute of Nature Conservation & Analyses (VINCA).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stefan Dullinger, Andreas Gattringer, Wilfried Thuiller, Dietmar Moser, Niklaus E. Zimmermann, Antoine Guisan, Wolfgang Willner, Christoph Plutzar, Michael Leitner, Thomas Mang, Marco Caccianiga, Thomas Dirnböck, Siegrun Ertl, Anton Fischer, Jonathan Lenoir, Jens-Christian Svenning, Achilleas Psomas, Dirk R. Schmatz, Urban Silc, Pascal Vittoz, Karl Hülber. Extinction debt of high-mountain plants under twenty-first-century climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1514

Cite This Page:

University of Vienna. "European mountain plant population shows delayed response to climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507102332.htm>.
University of Vienna. (2012, May 7). European mountain plant population shows delayed response to climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507102332.htm
University of Vienna. "European mountain plant population shows delayed response to climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120507102332.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. 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