Article: article from journal or magazin.
Continent wide response of mountain vegetation to climate change
Nature Climate Change
Climate impact studies have indicated ecological fingerprints of recent global warming across a wide range of habitats. Whereas these studies have shown responses from various local case studies, a coherent large-scale account on temperature-driven changes of biotic communities has been lacking. Here we use 867 vegetation samples above the treeline from 60 summit sites in all major European mountain systems to show that ongoing climate change gradually transforms mountain plant communities. We provide evidence that the more cold-adapted species decline and the more warm-adapted species increase, a process described here as thermophilisation. At the scale of individual mountains this general trend may not be apparent, but at the¦larger, continental scale we observed a significantly higher abundance of thermophilic species in 2008, compared with 2001. Thermophilisation of mountain plant communities mirrors the degree of recent warming and is more pronounced in areas where the temperature increase has been higher. In view of the projected climate change the observed transformation suggests a progressive decline of cold mountain habitats and their biota.
climate change, Europe, alpine belt, species richness
Web of science
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