Global warming resulting in an increased similarity of plants in Alps

December 1st, 2007 - 2:15 pm ICT by admin  

Berlin , Dec 1 (ANI): New research by environmentalists indicates that global warming has resulted in an increased similarity of vegetation in mountain summits in the Alps.
The research was carried out by biologists from the University of Bayreuth and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany.
The study included assessing data on the composition and species 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.
For their study, the researchers analyzed 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 findings indicate that as a result of climate change, an upward shift of flora is taking place in the area.
This is not only 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 is increasing, but that species diversity across ecosystems is declining.
According to biologists, the resulting homogenization of the flora could lead to a reduction in regional biodiversity, as more and more species are now forced to share the summits.
The research establishes the fact that currently, 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,” said 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,” he added.
The 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. (ANI)

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