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Flore alpine et réchauffement climatique: observation de trois sommets valaisans à travers le XXe siècle
Bulletin de la Murithienne
Alpine flora and climate change: monitoring of three summits in Valais (Switzerland) during the 20th century Climate change might trigger an upward shift of the flora in the Swiss Alps, especially since these experienced higher change in average than observed on a global scale. Previous investigations in the canton des Grisons (Switzerland) and Austria have revealed an increase of floristic diversity on alpine summits since the beginning of the 20th century. Three summits in Valais were revisited in this study: the Gornergrat (first inventory in 1919), the Torrenthorn (about in 1885) and the Beaufort (about in 1920). Every summit was newly inventoried in 2003 in the framework of the PERMANENT.PLOT.CH project. All showed a strong increase in species richness. On the Gornergrat (3135 m), 16 species were not found anymore, but 35 new ones were observed. The number of species on this exceptionally rich summit rose from 102 to 121. In comparison, the floristic richness increased from 24 to 63 species on the Torrenthorn (2924 m) and from 16 to 48 species on the Beaufort (3048 m). As in previous studies, this increase seems likely to be associated with climate change: the new species prefer, in average, higher temperature conditions than those previously prevailing on the summits. On the Gornergrat and Beaufort, our observations reveal a development of alpine meadows, whereas species typical of rocks and raw soils are predominantly colonising the Torrenthorn. This difference might be related to the important damage caused by wanderers on the vegetation of the Torrenthorn.
climate, Beaufort, Bourg-St-Pierre, biodiversity, flora, Zermatt, Torrenthorn, Loèche-les-Bains, Guttet-Feschel, Valais
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