Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not even freezing cold stops invasive species in high altitudes

Date:
March 4, 2014
Source:
Ume universitet
Summary:
They hitchhike with us under the soles of our shoes and muddy car tires. Harsh and cold climates don't seem to stop alien plants from establishing themselves in high altitudes, where they now successfully penetrate the alpine vegetation. Mountains have so far been seen as the last natural ports of refuge, where alien species should have difficulties to establish themselves due to the harsh climate. They have been thought to be outnumbered by alpine plants adapted to survive cold, wind and short summers.

They hitchhike with us under the soles of our shoes and muddy car tires. Harsh and cold climates don't seem to stop alien plants from establishing themselves in high altitudes, where they now successfully penetrate the alpine vegetation. This is shown in a study at Ume University in Sweden and the University of Antwerp, Belgium.

"Alien plants often gain advantages in their new environment because they lack natural enemies, and in this case the lack of strong competitors amongst alpine plants may be the key to success for generalist native species," says ecologist Ann Milbau, assistant professor at the research station Climate Impacts Research Centre in Abisko, Sweden.

In a study published in the journal PLoS One she has, together with Jonas Lembrechts, scientist at University of Antwerp, Belgium, investigated how plants normally growing in lowland terrain can spread at higher altitudes in subarctic mountain areas in Norway.

Mountains have so far been seen as the last natural ports of refuge, where alien species should have difficulties to establish themselves due to the harsh climate. They have been thought to be outnumbered by alpine plants adapted to survive cold, wind and short summers.

However, research at Ume University's climate research centre in Abisko and University of Antwerp shows that alien plants are no longer rare above the arctic circle.

"We humans have something to do with that," says Jonas Lembrechts. "Aliens start their conquest in the lowlands and follow human roads and walking tracks into the mountains. Hidden in the mud attached to our cars and shoes, they easily find their way up to the alpine zone."

The vegetation in the mountain regions is not prepared for this, especially not at higher altitudes, according to the study. In lower terrain the new species stick to the roadsides, while further up they swarm out into the undisturbed vegetation.

"The higher vulnerability of the alpine nature probably results from a lower resistance," says Jonas Lembrechts. Alpine plants in the far north are not prepared for the invasion of competitive species from the valley.

"Most likely, these alien lowland species are becoming increasingly successful in alpine terrain due to the warmer weather we have experienced in the past decades," says Ann Milbau. "Climate warming and increasing human disturbances in high latitude mountain regions may further increase the pressure from introduced species in the coming years."

The scientists conclude that mountaineers and hikers should be aware that they carry undesired co-travellers under their feet when they explore pristine areas. To clean shoes and other equipment before before the trip is a good way to preserve the vegetation in the areas they plan to visit.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jonas J. Lembrechts, Ann Milbau, Ivan Nijs. Alien Roadside Species More Easily Invade Alpine than Lowland Plant Communities in a Subarctic Mountain Ecosystem. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (2): e89664 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089664

Cite This Page:

Ume universitet. "Not even freezing cold stops invasive species in high altitudes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304071430.htm>.
Ume universitet. (2014, March 4). Not even freezing cold stops invasive species in high altitudes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304071430.htm
Ume universitet. "Not even freezing cold stops invasive species in high altitudes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140304071430.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. 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