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Profiteers of environmental change in the Swiss Alps: increase of thermophilous and generalist plants in wetland ecosystems within the last 10 years


Moradi, H; Fakheran, S; Peintinger, M; Bergamini, A; Schmid, B; Joshi, J (2012). Profiteers of environmental change in the Swiss Alps: increase of thermophilous and generalist plants in wetland ecosystems within the last 10 years. Alpine Botany, 122(1):45-56.

Abstract

It has been predicted that Northern Europe will experience a rise in temperature of 2.3–5.3°C from now until 2100. This increase in temperature may lead to vegetation change along altitudinal gradients. To test this prediction, we recorded plant-species composition in 1995 and 2005/06 in Swiss pre-alpine fen meadows (800–1400 m a.s.l.). Despite no obvious changes in the management of these fens, overall, plant-species richness (cumulative number of plant species at five plots per site) significantly increased over this period. This was mainly due to an increase in the number of thermophilous, rich-soil indicator and shade indicator species which corresponded to increased community productivity and shading within the vegetation layer. In contrast, fen specialists significantly declined in species numbers. The strongest shift in vegetation composition occurred at the lowest sites, which overall had a higher colonization rate by new species than did sites at higher altitudes. Vegetation change along the altitudinal gradient was also affected by different types of land management: early- flowering species and species with low habitat-specificity had high colonization rates in grazed fens, especially at low altitudes.

Abstract

It has been predicted that Northern Europe will experience a rise in temperature of 2.3–5.3°C from now until 2100. This increase in temperature may lead to vegetation change along altitudinal gradients. To test this prediction, we recorded plant-species composition in 1995 and 2005/06 in Swiss pre-alpine fen meadows (800–1400 m a.s.l.). Despite no obvious changes in the management of these fens, overall, plant-species richness (cumulative number of plant species at five plots per site) significantly increased over this period. This was mainly due to an increase in the number of thermophilous, rich-soil indicator and shade indicator species which corresponded to increased community productivity and shading within the vegetation layer. In contrast, fen specialists significantly declined in species numbers. The strongest shift in vegetation composition occurred at the lowest sites, which overall had a higher colonization rate by new species than did sites at higher altitudes. Vegetation change along the altitudinal gradient was also affected by different types of land management: early- flowering species and species with low habitat-specificity had high colonization rates in grazed fens, especially at low altitudes.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Uncontrolled Keywords:altitudinal gradient, fen meadows, global change, indicator species, land management, vegetation change, land-use
Date:2012
Deposited On:21 May 2012 11:37
Last Modified:16 Feb 2018 23:29
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1664-221X
Additional Information:The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s00035-012-0102-3

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