Contributions Workshop 2.2.D:
Mountain biodiversity and ecosystems under global change

ID: 182
Workshop & Poster
What Drives the Variation of Plant Functional Traits on Periglacial Patterned Ground and Along Elevational Gradients?What Drives the Variation of Plant Functional Traits on Periglacial Patterned Ground and Along Elevational Gradients?
Keywords: Periglacial, alpine, plants, traits, climate

Apple, Martha Elizabeth1; Valles, Damian2; Ricketts, Macy3; Gallagher, James4
1Montana Technological University, United States of America; 2Texas State University; 3University of Wyoming; 4OPeNDAP, Inc.

Workshop Abstract:

Periglacial patterned ground exists as stripes and polygons in the alpine tundra of Glacier National Park and at Goat Flat in the Pintler Mountains of Montana. Alternating microhabitats of the patterned ground are likely influenced by large-scale changes in hydrology and in other factors due to the retreat of adjacent snowfields and glaciers. Periglacial patterned ground is vulnerable to trampling-induced crushing and erosion.Plant functional traits differ between the green and brown stripes of periglacial patterned ground. The green stripes appear so because they are dominated by dwarf shrubs, including Dryas octopetala and Salix arctica, while the brown stripes appear so because they are sparsely covered by herbaceous plants which frequently have taproots and grow as cushions or mats. Brown stripes have a greater frequency of rare arctic-alpine plants and thus they may constitute refugia for the rare species, which include the endemics Aguilegia jonesii and Papaver pygmaeum. The brown stripes also have a higher percentage of the thermophilic bacterial genera Thermacetogenium and Thermoflavimicrobium. What drives the differences in species and functional trait distribution? To explore this question and to determine whether temperature fluctuations are greater on the sparsely vegetated brown stripes, we monitor species distribution and functional traits and have installed an array of temperature sensors in the soil at Goat Flat. In related work, we continue to develop the RAPT (Researching Alpine Plant Traits) predictive model of plant species and functional trait distribution along an elevational gradient in the Cairngorm Mountains, adjacent to the Scottish GLORIA site. The RAPT model uses in-situ data, maps, and machine learning to generate interactive scenarios.

Poster Abstract:

Investigations of Plant Functional Traits and Microhabitats on Periglacial Patterned Ground, Near Snowfields, and Along Elevational Gradients in Montana

Periglacial patterned ground, snowfields, and elevational gradients both pose intriguing questions on the distribution of plant species and their functional traits with respect to the differences in environmental conditions that occur with position on periglacial patterned ground, near snowfields, and along elevational gradients. In the Northern Rocky Mountains of Montana, USA, we monitor the distribution of alpine plants that grow on periglacial patterned ground and near snowfields. Concurrently, we gather data on temperature differences with microhabitat, and are in the process of developing inexpensive soil moisture sensors that can be left in-situ throughout the winter and accessed remotely. This research is being conducted with the goals of understanding what factors influence plant functional trait distribution in order to predict the responses of plants with different functional traits to the changing alpine environments.


ID: 224
Workshop & Poster
Recruitment of alpine species along an altitudinal gradient in the Central Alps
Keywords: germination, recruitment, seedling, population, dynamic

Margreiter, Vera; Erschbamer, Brigitta
University of Innsbruck, Austria

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

Since the last decades, plants from lower and warmer habitats are migrating to higher and colder ecotones in European high mountains, as a consequence of climate warming. For migrating as well as for persisting within a changing environment, germination and seedling recruitment are crucial processes for plant individuals and populations. At the same time, these processes are the most vulnerable stages in a plant’s life. Furthermore, germination success and seedling recruitment contribute to species abundance, which shape community assembly. In this context, we asked the following questions amongst others: are high altitude species able to recruit under warmer conditions? Can low alpine species cope with conditions in highest altitudes?

A field experiment was carried out in the Inner Oetz Valley, Austria, to test the effects of altitude, presence of established species (facilitation), artificial soil and provenance of seeds (lower alpine, upper alpine) on germination and seedling recruitment (survival). Seeds/bulbils of nine wide-spread alpine species, representing different life forms (herb, grass, and cushion) were sown along an altitudinal gradient from 2000 m to 2900 m a.s.l. Germination and survival was observed over two growing seasons.

Germination occurred until the second growing season. Seedling survival was best in artificial soil treatment in all altitudes. At the subalpine site, recruitment of high altitude species was limited by belowground competition and shading by surrounding vegetation. At the nival belt, results indicate facilitation effects. Leucanthemopsis alpina and Poa alpina were the most successful species along the elevation gradient.

Our data on germination and recruitment success contribute to the understanding of migration and persistence ability of wide spread alpine species. This may help to predict future community assembly, and to this end, we encourage scientists who work on predictive modelling, to include data on germination, seedling recruitment and population dynamics in their models.


ID: 234
Workshop & Poster
Temperature manipulations alters growth but not facilitation effects in an alpine cushion species
Keywords: Climate change, global warming, interaction intensity, open-top chambers, plant interactions, plant growth

Pugnaire, Francisco1; Pistón, Nuria1,2; Macek, Petr1,3; Schöb, Christian1,4; Estruch, Carme1,5; Armas, Cristina1
1Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Almería, Spain; 2Universidad Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 3Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic; 4ETH Zürich, Switzerland; 5Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

Climate change is more pronounced in high-elevation habitats than elsewhere, potentially leading to important disruptions in plant community composition and dynamics through changes in plant interactions. We tested the effect of warming and rainfall manipulations on growth and physiological status of Arenaria tetraquetra, a nurse cushion plant species in the Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain, and assessed the consequences of experimental manipulations on its facilitation effects. We increased temperature using acrylic open-top chambers (OTC) and increased and decreased rainfall water availability. Warming could potentially increase physiological rates and growth if water is available; otherwise, warming would lower physiological rates and growth, weakening the plant’s facilitation effects. Our rainfall treatments did not have significant effects, but warming increased daylight air temperature enhancing photosynthetic rate and respiration. Warming increased canopy growth and led to larger leaves but did not change other cushion traits nor altered its facilitation effect. We conclude that global warming may change the physiology of alpine plants, offsetting gas exchange patterns. It is unlikely, however, that warming will significantly affect interaction intensity between facilitator and beneficiary species in the short term, as expected temperature changes may not be enough to alter in substantial ways the status quo of current interactions.


ID: 278
Workshop & Poster
Plant and invertebrate diversity along an alpine elevation gradient
Keywords: species richness, elevation gradient, mountain grassland

Seeber, Julia1,2; Fontana, Veronika1; Guariento, Elia1; Hilpold, Andreas1; Niedrist, Georg1; Steinwandter, Michael1; Tappeiner, Ulrike1,2
1Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac research, Italy; 2Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

The Vinschgau Valley in South Tyrol represents one of few inner Alpine dry valleys with an average annual precipitation of approx. 500 mm. These dry conditions along with traditional and extensive management favor the formation of open grasslands harbouring remarkable plant and animal species.

At the LTSER site Matsch/Mazia an elevation gradient of dry pastures from 1000 to 2500 m a.s.l. is available. All sites have similar characteristics with an exposition to S and SO, same parent rock and land use. Such a gradient is ideal for comparing species composition in similar habitats at different elevations. Moreover, it can serve as a proxy for discussing climate change effects on mountain ecosystems.

We assessed species composition of a range of plant and animal taxa along this elevation transect. By applying multivariate and trait based statistical analyses we aim at evaluating effects of elevation and corresponding environmental parameters (e.g. temperature, soil moisture, soil organic matter content, etc.) on species richness and composition.

ID: 321
Workshop & Poster
Integrating multiple observational and ecophysiological data types into a single analytical framework - the case for the Climate Sentinels Research Program in the Region of New Aquitaine (South West, France)
Keywords: Pyrenees, sampling, climate change, biodiversity, reproducibility

D'AMICO, Frank J N1; HUGON, Floren2; LIQUET, Benoit3; MALLARD, Fanny4

Workshop Abstract:

Understanding local effects of climate change and interaction between large- and small-scale drivers of change on biodiversity are essential for environmental policy orientation. In south-west France, the integrative 6-years (2016-2021) project “Climate sentinels” is an action-oriented research approach at the interface between science and society. Focusing on a set of indicators of species that have weak dispersal capacity, it transcends taxonomical borders (namely, for the Western Pyrenees: flora, lepidoptera, bumblebees, Pyrenean frog, mountain lizards and marmots), types of observational (from naturalistic data from regional observatories to protocoled monitoring data taking into account imperfect detection) and experimental data and statistical modeling paradigms.

In this presentation, we refer to two specific components: i/ the integration of observational data under different sampling schemes (haphazard collection versus advanced probabilistic designs) and ii/ the use of hybrid methods and mechanistic models to include ecological processes and ecophysiological important traits to understand and forecast climate-change induced range shifts given climate variability. Beyond shortcomings and necessary adaptive improvements, it illustrates the efforts in applying methods that integrate multiple data types into a single analytical framework as the spatial and temporal scale of ecological research expands.

As a whole, the mix of approaches (monitoring, experimental, modelling) structuring the project “Climate sentinels” participates to create the mandatory links between scientists and field observers communities, natural areas managers and decision-makers who implement environmental policies, as well as ultimately, the civil society which guides societal choices. Being reproducible, the methods and models developed in this program may be adjusted to be transferable to territories at both national and European level and should both enable dissemination of knowledge and encourage sharing of experience. Eventually, such integrative research at the regional scale contributes to targeting species and habitat of high conservation priority.

ID: 339
Workshop & Poster
Understanding plant responses to climate extremes in the context of alpine plant regeneration and vegetation change

Venn, Susanna
Deakin University, Australia

Workshop Abstract:

Climate change is bringing new conditions to mountain environments; earlier springs, unexpected frosts, drier and hotter summers, and an extended growing season for plants. While many alpine plants are hardy, and can cope with the rapid changes, there is much to learn about the how the specific climate parameters that are changing will affect growth, reproduction and overall vegetation change over time. For example, woody alpine shrubs are responding rapidly to change, matching a trend spanning four decades of rising temperatures and declining snowpack. However, many shrubs are notoriously clonal, and sexual recruitment will ultimately be necessary for dispersal and for ongoing population maintenance into the future. The temperatures and conditions for plant recruitment in general may be pushed outside a given species’ optimum range. In addition, the ambient temperatures and precipitation recorded at nearby meteorological stations are likely far from the micro-climate and small-scale patterns in temperatures and soil moisture that plants actually experience in the field.

Using alpine shrubs from Australia, I explore the mismatch in optimum, minimum and maximum germination temperatures, with the minimum and maximum temperatures recorded where the seed was collected from. In every case considered, shrub seed could germinate at much higher temperatures than what is recorded and interpolated from meteorological station data; lending support to the idea that we must delve deeper into the climate parameters that are changing, and do this at much smaller scales to gain an understanding of the actual environmental conditions that plants are experiencing. Only then will ‘scaling-up’ to predict vegetation responses and overall vegetation change be truly meaningful.

Poster Abstract:

The germination temperatures of alpine shrubs are apparantly outside of their occupancy range.

Susanna Venn, Rachael Gallagher, Adrienne Nicotra

Worldwide, shrub cover is increasing across alpine tundra. In Australia, alpine shrub increases match a trend spanning four decades of rising temperatures and declining snowpack. Alpine shrubs are notoriously clonal, however sexual recruitment will be necessary for dispersal and for ongoing population maintenance into the future. With a changing climate, species recruitment may need to operate outside of the optimum range. The germination niche of a species is defined as the entire range at which germination can occur, including optimums, but also the extreme edges of germination; from very poor germination rates at very low and very high temperatures, to higher germination rates at favourable temperatures. Hence, the germination niche of some species will be important for understanding future regeneration and recruitment under a warming climate. But do germination niche limits coincide with species range limits? And how will the germination opportunities for some shrubs change in the future as the germination niche ‘envelope’ becomes smaller or larger? We compared data on the germination niche requirements of several alpine shrubs to climatic niche limits derived from herbarium records. Specifically, we compared the breadth of temperatures (both averages and extremes) experienced across 11 alpine species ranges derived from cleaned occurrence records in the Australian Virtual Herbarium. We then compared the range of extent of the target species with the temperatures that allowed for germination in the lab. This study will enable us to make better predictions about the potential for encroachment and the possible range of alpine shrubs into the future.


ID: 356
Workshop & Poster
Heat, frost, drought: How will Australian alpine plants respond to future climate extremes?
Keywords: climate change, alpine plants, thermal tolerance, stress

Sumner, Emma Elizabeth
Deakin University, Australia

Workshop Abstract:

While the effects of climate change in Australia’s alpine regions are already apparent, with declining snowfalls and warming temperatures, we are still unable to predict how alpine vegetation will respond to the specific climate parameters that are changing; i.e., how will plants cope with more frequent and unseasonal extreme frost events, more frequent and extreme heatwaves, extended periods of soil drought in late summer, and earlier snowmelt? The aim of my PhD project is to assess growth and thermal tolerance responses of key alpine plants and communities to future predicted climate extremes. This will be carried out with a series of experiments which manipulate and investigate thermal tolerance and growth responses to key climate conditions including rainfall, temperature, and snow melt timing. This research will contribute much needed empirical data to fill a large gap in our understanding of how Australian alpine vegetation will respond to ongoing climate change. The objectives of this research are:

1) Provide empirical data on the upper and lower thermal tolerances of key alpine plant species.

2) Investigate how snow conditions during winter and spring affect the upper and lower thermal tolerances and growth of alpine plants throughout the year.

3) Demonstrate the combined effects of drought on upper and lower thermal thresholds, and determine how important the interactions are between drought with heat and frost resistance.

4) Determine which species, and plant communities may be most at risk from the extremes of the future predicted climate

Poster Abstract:

Climate in the Australian Alps encompasses both upper and lower temperature extremes: freezing events occur year-round, and heatwaves (with ambient temperatures sometimes exceeding 30°C) can occur throughout the growing season, often co-occurring with severe soil-moisture deficits. The frequency, duration, and intensity of these extreme events is increasing with climate change. Extreme high and low temperature events cause damage to the photosynthetic apparatus of plant tissue, and as such, represent a major challenge of survival for Australian alpine plant species. However, responses to climate change may vary across the landscape, particularly with elevation due to small scale differences in environmental conditions such as snowmelt timing and temperature. We aim to investigate the capacity for Australian alpine plant species to adjust their thermal tolerances to current and future climate extremes, and improve understanding of how Australian alpine plants acclimate to seasonal environmental conditions. Plant material of several key species will be sampled along a 200m elevation gradient and tested for both upper and lower thermal tolerances using a series of heated water baths and portable freezers. Foliar freezing and heating resistance of leaves will be determined using chlorophyll fluorometry. Plants will be tested for seasonal changes in thermal tolerances including winter by digging down through the snow to access plant material. We ask specifically 1) Are there intraspecific differences in thermal tolerance across an elevation gradient? 2) Do alpine plants display similar adjustments to thermal tolerance thresholds across seasons?

This study is currently in progress, and preliminary results will be reported for 2019 autumn and winter seasons.


ID: 368
Workshop & Poster
How do Australian alpine plants respond to the low snowpack future of climate change?
Keywords: Climate change, snow, Australia, plants, Southern Hemisphere

Gibson, Casey1; Keith, David1,2; Cornwell, Will1; Venn, Susanna3
1University of New South Wales, Australia; 2Office of Environment & Heritage, New South Wales, Australia; 3Deakin University, Australia

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

Alpine ecosystems of the Australian mainland are among the most spatially and altitudinally restricted in the world placing them at a heightened risk from climate change. A major abiotic symptom of climate change in the low elevation mountains of the Australian Alps is decreased depth and duration of seasonal snow pack. To understand how alpine plants of this region will respond to reduced snow pack in a future of ongoing climate change, we conducted a snow removal experiment over two years in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales.

In this experiment, we simulated conditions of significantly reduced winter snow pack and early spring snow melt, along with ambient snow pack controls, in forty one metre squared plots. During the snow-free seasons, we measured growth, reproductive phenology, and freezing damage in ten target angiosperm species encompassing 800 individual plants.

Complementary to our snow removal experiment, we quantified the seasonal course of freezing resistence in the ten target species. Results from both the snow removal experiment and freezing resistence study will be presented in the workshop.

ID: 447
Workshop & Poster
From vegetation cover to the reaction of single plant species: What can GLORIA already tell us about the effects of climate warming on alpine vegetation?
Keywords: long-term observation, mountain, Alps, new colonizers, diversity 

Nicklas, Lena1; Walde, Janette1; Mallaun, Martin1; Unterluggauer, Peter1; Wipf, Sonja2; Steinbauer, Klaus3; Lamprecht, Andrea3; Vittoz, Pascal4; Theurillat, Jean-Paul5; Erschbamer, Brigitta1
1University of Innsbruck, Austria; 2WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Switzerland; 3GLORIA-Coordination, Austrian Academy of Sciences, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria; 4University of Lausanne, France; 5Fondation J.-M. Aubert, Université de Genève, Switzerland

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

Vegetation is an important indicator for mountain ecosystems processes. It has been shown that alpine plant diversity is highly sensitive to global change. As temperatures are rising, species from lower altitudes are able to expand their ranges upwards, leading to an increase of species numbers and a thermophilization of mountain plant communities. But the actual increase of species at summits may only be a temporary phenomenon as cold adapted species are threatened by competitive displacement. Species distribution models are predicting drastic species losses by the end of the 21st century. To verify and improve predictive models, long term observation with standardised monitoring is crucial.

Within the GLORIA project (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments) vegetation changes at summits of mountain ridges all over the world are monitored along an altitudinal gradient from the treeline ecotone to the subnival-nival zone. Taking into account each aspect, species richness and cover of surface types are recorded in the uppermost 10 meters of each summit every 5-7 years. Fine scaled observations at a 1 m² permanent plot level enable to detect new colonizing species and evidence changes in vegetation cover.

In our recent analyses of the GLORIA data from six different regions across the Alps (Dolomites, Texelgruppe, Swiss National Park, Alps of Valais-Entremont, Hochschwab) consisting of siliceous and calcareous bedrock we are showing the trends in vegetation cover and its relationship with plant diversity and the appearance of new species.

To identify species being under threat of extinction vs. migrating species from lower altitudes, further analyses along transects reaching from the summits down to the treeline are implemented. A worldwide summit flora review shall summarize the current knowledge on changes in mountain plant diversity and help to interpret our results on a broader background.


ID: 473
Workshop & Poster
Pyrenean mountain pastures: Modelling land-use change and ecosystem impacts under climate change

Keywords: climate change, mountain pastures, agent-based modelling

Egger, Claudine1; Mayer, Andreas1; Gaube, Veronika1; Plutzar, Christoph1; Schmeller, Dirk2; Loyau, Adeline2
1Institute of Social Ecology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna; 2Ecolab Toulouse

Workshop Abstract:

Land-use and climate change are pervasive drivers of global environmental change, posing major threats to global ecosystems and biodiversity. Research to date has mostly focused either on land-use change or on climate change, but rarely on the interactions between both drivers, even though systemic feedbacks between changes in climate and land use will have important effects on livestock, ecosystems and biodiversity. Climate change will not only alter patterns of temperature, precipitation or species pools, it will also motivate land owners to reconsider their land use decisions.

In our project (MoLUP), we focus on the role of mountainous livestock systems and pastoralism and collaborate in an interdisciplinary research effort with the ongoing Belmont project (P3). There, we explore anticipated systemic feedbacks between (1) climate change, (2) land owner’s decisions on land use, (3) land-use change, and (4) changes in ecosystems and hydrological regimes in the coming decades for the department Ariège in the French Pyrenees.

For the Ariège, we developed an agent-based model that simulates decisions of important actors. The spatially explicit modelling results depict changes in land cover and land use patterns. In addition, hydrological data as well as data on pollution and pathogens will be integrated into the model.

For MoLUP, the most relevant agents are farms that make land use decisions dependent on climatic and socio-economic conditions (e.g. subsidies and agricultural prices) as well as intrinsic preferences and societal norms (i.e. their farming style), that may change over time. Expert interviews and interviews during field trips allow incorporating regional specifics of the respective sites into the ABM and deepen the understanding of farmers motivations behind their land use decisions. Our interviews show the dominance of pastoralism in the Ariège and the collectively used mountain pastures as key factor in securing food supply for livestock.

Poster Abstract:

Land-use and climate change are pervasive drivers of global environmental change, posing major threats to global ecosystems and biodiversity. Research to date has mostly focused either on land-use change or on climate change, but rarely on the interactions between both drivers, even though systemic feedbacks between changes in climate and land use will have important effects on livestock, ecosystems and biodiversity. Climate change will not only alter patterns of temperature, precipitation or species pools, it will also motivate land owners to reconsider their land use decisions.

In our project (MoLUP), we focus on the role of mountainous livestock systems and pastoralism and collaborate in an interdisciplinary research effort with the ongoing Belmont project (P3). There, we explore anticipated systemic feedbacks between (1) climate change, (2) land owner’s decisions on land use, (3) land-use change, and (4) changes in ecosystems and hydrological regimes in the coming decades for the department Ariège in the French Pyrenees.

For the Ariège, we developed an agent-based model that simulates decisions of important actors. The spatially explicit modelling results depict changes in land cover and land use patterns. In addition, hydrological data as well as data on pollution and pathogens will be integrated into the model.

The poster will depict the theoretical framework upon which the agent-based model is built: climatic and socio-economic factors both influence land managers decision making and therefore land use patterns. In our research we analyse changing land use patterns throughout different future scenarios, therefore we will give an overview over important indicators and possible future trends of their drivers. Finally, the changes in mountain pastoralism and other socio-economic indicators will be presented.


ID: 536
Workshop & Poster
Soil Biodiversity in Scottish alpine soils

Keywords: fungi, bacteria, oribatid mites

Taylor, Andy Forsyth Scott
The James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom

Workshop Abstract:

We have been developing molecular approaches for characterising fungal, bacterial and oribatid mite communities in a range of habitats including Scottish mountain systems. WE have carried out large scale analyses of communities associated with vegetation mosaics in the Cairngorm range of the Scottish Highlands. These analyses are based on linking below ground communities to the above ground vegetation and to environmental parameters, particularly snow lie duration.

We have found very strong relationships between above and below ground which can be related to soil conditions, the symbiotic associations prevalent in the vegetation mosaics and the quality of the litter inputs. The proportion of variation explainable by primary drivers is much higher in these systems than in low land system impacted to a much greater degree. This should allow for greater accuracy in determining which drivers and which mitigation measures would be most effective in countering change and potential biodiversity loss.

Overall the heterogeneity of vegetation mosaics above ground supports the heterogeneity below ground.


ID: 579
Workshop & Poster
Conserving intraspecific diversification in a warmer world – a case study on endemic high-mountain plants of the Pyrenees

Keywords: Intraspecific diversity, phylogenetic endemism, RADseq, species distribution modelling

Carnicero Campmany, Pau1; Dullinger, Stefan2; Schönswetter, Peter1
1University of Innsbruck, Austria; 2University of Vienna, Austria

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

The urgent need for preserving biodiversity is beyond any doubt. However, not all components of biodiversity are usually taken into account. For a long time, conservation efforts have targeted ecosystems or species; in recent years a new focus has been put on cryptic intraspecific diversity on the gene level. This can be especially relevant in areas with significant range shifts, resulting in strongly spatially structured intraspecific diversity. Due to the Pleistocene glaciation cycles, high-mountain flora often depicts this pattern. We focus here on the Pyrenees, the principal mountain range of southwestern Europe, with more than 4300 plant species, of which c. 300 are endemic. We integrate molecular data obtained from next generation sequencing and retrospective as well as prospective distribution modelling of species and intraspecific lineages. Our aims are to 1) identify glacial refugia for alpine plants endemic to the Pyrenees, 2) identify areas of high phylogenetic endemism for alpine plants endemic to the Pyrenees and 3) model the future distribution of alpine habitats and identify areas with high stability of climatic suitability under different climate change scenarios. Our data show a highly structured distribution of intraspecific diversity, with clear geographic patterns across the nine studied species, as well as common hotspots for phylogenetic endemism. A small area in the eastern Pyrenees exhibits high phylogenetic endemism, indicating long term isolation across glaciation cycles, and is therefore of major interest for conservation. Our species distribution models show a pessimistic future for the intraspecific diversity of the studied species, but at the same time allow for identifying areas, where conservation efforts should have a reasonable success probability.


ID: 602
Workshop & Poster
Climate change induced trends in alpine vegetation over the last 15 years in the Australian Alps

Keywords: Climate change; alpine ecology; GLORIA; species turnover; thermophilisation

Verrall, Brodie; Pickering, Catherine
Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Australia

Workshop Abstract:

High altitude areas are experiencing disproportional warming as the climate continues to change. Alpine vegetation is governed by low-temperature conditions and thus can be used as a proxy for the impacts of a warming climate on natural ecosystems, if long-term data exists. Climate warming induced changes in alpine vegetation are well documented in the European Alps and other parts of the world but are mostly unavailable for Australian alpine areas. Here, we examine changes in species richness and composition with respect to climate and altitude over a 15-year period in the third assessment of five alpine summits that are part of the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments monitoring network. In 2019, 83 species were recorded across all summits, an increase of 11 species since 2004 and an increase of 6 species since 2011. Mean species richness increased at the whole-of-summit scale from 32 in 2004 to 36 in 2011 and increased to 43 species in 2019 (about 35 % increase over 15 years). Although there was an increase in exclusively-alpine species richness over 15 years across all summits (P = 0.015), there was a decrease in the relative overlapping cover of these species (P = 0.008). Here, graminoids (P = 0.039) increased over the three time periods while the opposite is true for forbs (P = 0.010), and shrubs displayed a differential response. Overall, there has been thermophilisation of species composition over the survey period and the strength and direction of species richness change (the difference in species richness between the three sample periods) was correlated to altitude and the warming climate. Although this third assessment identified numerous trends, the next assessment of the summits will confirm whether these variations in species richness, particularly increases in graminoids and decreases in forbs, are indeed signals of longer-term trends and interactions with a changing climate.

Poster Abstract:

Can a critically endangered alpine plant community recover from bushfire in a warming world?

In January-February 2003, bushfires burnt 1.75 million hectares of the Australian Alps, including some areas of alpine vegetation. We assessed the recovery of a critically endangered alpine community, Windswept Feldmark, which is restricted to the highest ridges of the Australian Alps. In Feldmark, the dominant prostate shrub, Epacris microphylla, facilitates the growth of other less stress-tolerant plants potentially by sheltering them from abrasive winds and low temperatures. We compared permanent plots of burnt and unburnt Feldmark 15 years post-fire to assess recovery including if the new Epacris shrubs in burnt areas facilitate other plants. Differences in alpha and beta diversity, vegetation cover and composition were assessed in and out of shrub canopies, along with shrub size. In unburnt Feldmark, the shrubs enriched alpha and beta diversity resulting in greater gamma diversity for the community as a whole, with several species associated with the shrub, but rare outside its canopy (p>0.001). In contrast, in burnt areas graminoid (p=0.006), herb (p=0.045) and weed cover (p=0.024) were all higher, but not total vegetation cover (p=0.489), compared to unburnt Feldmark. Also shrubs where were taller but less spread out than in unburnt Feldmark. Finally, there were few species in the shrubs canopy, but more outside (p>0.001) in burnt Feldmark. It seems that the facilitation capacity of Epacris shrubs in burnt areas has not recovered and may actually be excluding, rather than facilitating, other species. Therefore, the ecology and composition of Feldmark may be changing in a warmer and more fire prone Alps.


ID: 616
Workshop & Poster
Towards biodiversity-related opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in mountains

Keywords: mountain biodiversity, sustainable mountain development

Payne, Davnah; Snethlage, Mark; Spehn, Eva; Fischer, Markus
Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment, University of Bern, Institute of Plant Sciences

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

The formulation and implementation of effective policies and management approaches to safeguard the natural assets underpinning human well-being in mountains requires a thorough understanding of the interactions between nature and people particular to mountain social-ecological systems. Yet, we are currently missing the mountain-specific assessments necessary to improve our understanding of these interactions, of the geographic, cultural, social, economic, and biological factors underlying them, and of the biodiversity-related opportunities that exist for sustainable development in mountains. Ongoing efforts at the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) aims at addressing this gap with a comparative assessment of the relations between biodiversity, ecosystem services, and their contribution to the well-being of human populations across mountains worldwide. Analyses of how these relations differ between mountain social-ecological systems are performed according to two guiding questions: (1) which geographic, cultural, social, economic, and biological factors promote tight biodiversity-human wellbeing relations in mountains? (2) what are opportunities for decision-making towards sustainable mountain development and how do these opportunities differ between mountain ranges varying in their geography, biology, and cultural, social, as well as economic context?

Data acquisition in the >1000 mountain ranges of the GMBA mountain inventory (Körner et al., 2017) broadly followed the conceptual framework of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, Diaz et al., 2015), and combined an online questionnaire to the mountain research community at large with a literature review. The online survey in English, Spanish, and French included questions on (i) the mountain area assessed by each respondent, (ii) the status of and trends in mountain ecosystems (including their condition, coverage and biodiversity), the ecosystem services they deliver, and the well-being of their populations; (iii) the status of and trends in the direct factors driving the observed changes in these key components; (iv) the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to human well-being; and (v) the governance of natural resources. Mountain ecosystems were grouped into five natural systems – above the treeline, forest, below the treeline, freshwater, and highly modified – and human well-being was assessed along five dimensions, namely material and social well-being, health, security, and freedom of choice. Direct drivers consisted of climate change, land use change, invasive species, overexploitation, and pollution, and the IPBES list of Nature’s Contribution to People, NCP) was used as a selection of ecosystem services.


ID: 618
Workshop & Poster
Primate behavior as a model to study climate change for human and animals living in alpine environment

Nautiyal, Himani
Kyoto University, Primate Research Institute Japan, Japan

Workshop Abstract:

Central Himalayan langur (Semnopithecus schistaceus) is the only native primate species who are distributed throughout entire Himalayan zones and up to an elevation of 4500 meters a.s.l. Today, most of the research is focused on plants to study the impact of climate change and animal studies are limited to few taxa globally and hardly any in the Himalayas. Plants in alpine environments are vulnerable to climate change and it has a direct effect on animals inhabiting these landscapes. Still, we have limited information on how these changes would affect their reproduction, social structure and feeding ecology, and the impact on the whole alpine landscape altogether.

Harsh climatic condition and treacherous terrain always present a tough challenge for studying animals in alpine environment. However, primates are always a good model for behavioural studies as they are easier to habituate and follow for a long time compared to other animals. Himalayan langurs can be a suitable model for understanding the effect of environmental and vegetation changes on the animals living in higher Himalayas. Long term behaviour model with environment and vegetation explanatory variables can provide a window through which to make predictions concerning the probable influence of climate change on animals living in such landscape. These findings might be helpful for humans as we are closely related to them.

This species is least studied among all other primate species in the world. This is going to be the first study on this primate species in the high Himalayas. This study can be very helpful to throw some new light on possible solutions for us humans to fight against and overcome the effects of climate change globally.


ID: 636
Workshop & Poster
Assessing adaptive capacity in the Australian Alps: An expert elicitation process

Geange, Sonya
Australian Alps working groups

Workshop and Poster Abstract:

Increasingly conservation and management practitioners are required to make decisions about allocation of resources based on vulnerability assessments that incorporate exposure risk and adaptive capacity of species. But there is little agreement on how to quantify that capacity efficiently or rigorously. Further, the relative importance of the organism to ecosystem function must also be considered for conservation resources to be effectively allocated. Species with high functional importance and low adaptive capacity require urgent management attention, whereas those with both low adaptive capacity and functional importance most likely not. But where is the science to enable to such decisions? Expert opinion is emerging as a way to augment empirical resources in a time of rapid change. We applied the IDEA structured expert judgement framework to assess the efficacy of expert elicitation to predict the adaptive capacity of alpine species.

We found our experts (including ecologists, taxonomists, conservationists and land managers) had high certainty around predicting community level shifts, and some species level shifts. There were some species of considerable functional importance for which experts predicted little adaptive capacity, and some of low functional importance for which high adaptive capacity was noted. Interestingly, we found several species of significant functional importance about which experts agreed the trajectory was uncertain and these stood out as demanding empirical work. Thus, we highlight how the use of robust expert elicitation processes may not only provide insights as to when experts agree on likely impacts of climate change upon species, but also provide direction for where research priorities should be focused. We discuss outcomes and broader applications of this approach and present a new web-based platform for organizing and conducting expert elicitations of adaptive capacity.


ID: 643
Workshop & Poster
Biogeomorphic investigation of abiotic and biotic interplay in the proglacial area, Gepatschferner/Austria

Keywords: biogeomorphology, sediment transport, functional diversity, disturbance, geomorphology

Haselberger, Stefan
University of Vienna, Austria

Workshop Abstract:

Earth surface processes and vegetation succession form a dynamic relationship that is affected by the functional composition and diversity of plant traits. High-mountain environments enjoy slowly strengthening recognition within biogeomorphic research approaches, as high geomorphic activity and initial conditions for primary succession provide an expedient area for investigation. Up to now, biogeomorphic studies have mainly focused on the qualitative description of relationships and feedbacks between biotic and abiotic processes. However, in order to further investigate multidirectional relationships, it is necessary to jointly quantify (i) geomorphic process rates as a function of vegetation and (ii) successional development as a function of geomorphic conditions.
The proglacial area of the Gepatschferner (Kaunertal) in the crystalline Central Eastern Alps presents a showcase environment to investigate these interactions as the retreating glacier and highly active slope processes provide the ground for different stages of ecological succession and promotes high rates of sediment reworking within the proglacial deposits. Here the combination of geomorphic and vegetation characteristics with erosion rates at various stages of ecological succession, allows us to discuss reciprocal adjustment of vegetation and soil erosion and to disentangle biogeomorphic feedback effects.
The current research is embedded in the Horizon 2020 project PHUSICOS funded by the European Union that seeks to apply natural based solutions to face increasing threats by natural hazards in mountain environments. An increased understanding for the interplay between biotic and abiotic processes ought to provide guidance for application of local engineering plants to increase slope stability in high mountain environments.
Within the Students for Students Summer School of the International Mountain Conference 2019 the described biogeomorphic research can help to understand feedbacks between ecological diversity and geomorphic surface dynamics that shape proglacial environments in concert.

Poster Abstract:

Earth surface processes and vegetation succession form a dynamic relationship that is affected by the functional composition and diversity of plant traits. High-mountain environments enjoy slowly strengthening recognition within biogeomorphic research approaches, as high geomorphic activity and initial conditions for primary succession provide an expedient area for investigation. Up to now, biogeomorphic studies have mainly focused on the qualitative description of relationships and feedbacks between biotic and abiotic processes. However, in order to further investigate multidirectional relationships, it is necessary to jointly quantify (i) geomorphic process rates as a function of vegetation and (ii) successional development as a function of geomorphic conditions.
The proglacial area of the Gepatschferner (Kaunertal) in the crystalline Central Eastern Alps presents a showcase environment to investigate these interactions as the retreating glacier and highly active slope processes provide the ground for different stages of ecological succession and promotes high rates of sediment reworking within the proglacial deposits.
In this particular study, we investigate small-scale biogeomorphic interactions at 57 test sites of 2*3m size. Experimental plots are established on slopes along an ecological succession gradient that reflect different stages of erosion-vegetation interaction. Basic geomorphic parameters like morphometric characteristics, grain size distribution and soil composition were determined for the plot sites. In order to quantify soil erosion, we combine mechanical measurements (i.e. soil erosion plots) with digital surface-change detection techniques (i.e. structure from motion analyses). A detailed vegetation survey was carried out to capture ecological conditions at the sites. We assessed and compared the general species distribution at each site, as well as individual plant traits like root volume, root length, leaf size, which are assumed effective on soil erosion dynamics.
Combining geomorphic and vegetation characteristics with erosion rates at various stages of ecological succession, allows us to discuss reciprocal adjustment of vegetation and soil erosion and to disentangle biogeomorphic feedback effects. First data analyses clearly show the influence of biotic parameters on abiotic process rates. Further feedbacks between small scale sediment transport and plant functionalities will be presented.

Haselberger Stefan1, Jan-Christoph Otto2; Lisa Ohler3, Robert R. t Junker3, Thomas Glade1, Sabine Kraushaar1
1University of Vienna, Department of Geography and Regional Research, 1010, Vienna, Austria
2University of Salzburg, Department of Geography and Geology, 5020, Salzburg, Austria
3University of Salzburg, Department of Biosciences, Salzburg, Austria


ID: 122
Specific Research Poster
Bioindicator for long-term ecological monitoring in mountainous ecosystems, Kailash Sacred Landscape, Western Himalaya, India
Keywords: bioindicator, ecological monitoring, mountains, vulnerable

Chauhan, Mona; uniyal, V.P.

Poster Abstract:

Himalayan mountains harbour the rich biodiversity and socioeconomic diversity. This haven for several endemic, rare, vulnerable, threatened faunal and floral species. Mountainous ecosystems are vulnerable to threats from environmental as well as from human induced drivers of change. Unsustainable land use practices lead to habitat degradation and forest fragmentation, which ultimately contribute to climate change and global warming. How to assess the impact of climate and land use change on species, how species react to any alteration in habitat, climatic and environmental conditions are the most pertinent questions. Ecological monitoring can provide advanced warning of undesirable ecological change thus permit managers and policy makers to adopt an adaptive management approach for conservation. Bioindicators have been proven to be useful tools for ecological monitoring. Bioindicator can be defined as a species or group of species that readily reflects the impact of environmental change on habitat, community or ecosystem. Invertebrates provide a tool to study the relative influence of environmental and spatial variables in driving variation in species diversity. Among invertebrates, dung beetles are considered as one of the potential bioindicator taxa for ecological monitoring. Dung beetles provide various ecosystem services such as dung removal, parasitic suppression, nutrient cycling and soil aeration. Dung beetles have been studied as bioindicator taxa for long term ecological monitoring in the Indian part of Kailash Sacred Landscape, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. Alpine pastures and different forest types were examined and long monitoring plot has been fixed. Community composition of dung beetles alters with the land use changes and also species richness and diversity at the natural forest sites were higher than in all land-use systems. Due to the high sensitivity of dung beetles to habitat modification and changing land use patterns, environmental condition strengthen, their potential utility as ecological indicator taxa in applied conservation science.

ID: 136
Specific Research Poster
Spatio-temporal analysis of the number of hunted animals for the assessment of the landscape quality and the provision of ecosystem services

Keywords: shooting quota, landscape indicator, landscape change, landscape quality, ecosystem services

Unterthurner, Birgith1; Tappeiner, Ulrike2; Rüdisser, Johannes2; Gerstgrasser, Lothar3; Agreiter, Andreas4; Giardino, Marco1; Tasser, Erich1
1Eurac Research Bozen, Italy; 2University of Innsbruck, Department of Ecology, Austria; 3Südtiroler Jagdverband, Italy; 4Amt für Jagd und Fischerei, Südtiroler Landesverwaltung, Italy

Poster Abstract:

Over the last century, increasing areas of human settlement, intensification of agriculture, changing climatic conditions and many more factors affected and formed the landscape and its ecosystems. In mountain ecosystems, high variation in altitudinal and land-use gradients created a mosaic landscape containing a broad spectrum of habitats and species. Changes in these systems can cause population increases or declines or in extreme cases disappearance. In this study, we try to link the occurrence of game species with changes in landscape quality by using shooting quota. We aim to find species or species groups which can be used as indicators to measure, describe and assess changes in landscape structure and landscape quality in South Tyrol, Italy, over the last 150 years. Firstly, long-term shooting quota of 40 hunting grounds were digitized and evaluated. Species like the capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and the grey partridge (Perdix perdix) show strong population declines over the last 70 years. Hunting these species is nowadays restricted. By contrast, the total sum of shot red deer (Cervus elaphus) increased from 114 individuals between 1953 and 1964 up to 33.447 individuals between 2005 and 2014. In a next step, statistical analysis will be used to find a link between shooting quota and predictors as landscape structure, land use, temperature and precipitation, use of pesticides and number of hunters in the area. Further, we will use this data to analyze and assess the changes in the provision of ecosystem services.

ID: 276
Specific Research Poster
Biodiversity Monitoring South Tyrol (BMS)

Keywords: monitoring, biodiversity, South Tyrol

Hilpold, Andreas; Niedrist, Georg; Tappeiner, Ulrike
Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, Italy

Poster Abstract:

A permanent biodiversity monitoring system for South Tyrol is currently being set up on the initiative of the South Tyrolean provincial government and under the direction of Eurac Research. The monitoring not only serves basic research, but is also intended to provide the scientific basis for political decisions, especially in connection with spatial planning, agriculture and nature protection. The BMS aims at the survey of species groups that react sensitively to climate and land use change. In addition to birds and vascular plants, various insect groups, such as grasshoppers and butterflies, will be surveyed. A soil and a limnology part are also planned. The study sites are distributed evenly over the country and include a representative selection of habitats. Apart from man-made and managed habitats, a range of alpine habitats is also being studied that are very sensitive to climate change. Comprehensive surveys are already planned for 2019.

ID: 288
Specific Research Poster
Effect of anthropic pressure on large mammals in the Pyrenees: an occupancy model approach with Capreolus capreolus and Rupycapra pyrenaica
Keywords: Occupancy models, activity patterns, anthropic impact, livestock, wild herbivores

de la Cueva, Inés1; Prats, Marta2; Ferrándiz, Mariona1,3; Claramunt, Bernat1,3
1Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry (CREAF), Spain; 2WildLandscapes International, U.S.; 3Department of Vegetal Biology, Animal Biology and Ecology (BABVE) of the Autonomus University of Barcelona, Spain

Poster Abstract:

In a world where nature conservation and management are compromised by an increasingly anthropised landscape, understanding the effects of human impact on wildlife is fundamental. We evaluated how the human pressure, measured as percentage of humans or domestic animals (cows, horses and sheep) and closeness to anthropic variables, affects the occupancy of mammals in the Pyrenees. We selected the two most abundant wild herbivores in our study area: the roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and the chamois (Rupycapra pyrenaica). The presence or absence of these species were detected by sixty camera-traps, situated in twelve stations at various elevations, habitat types and anthropization degree in the Ordino Valley in Andorra. We set up one species multi-season models using a six-seasons survey period from May 2016 to November 2017. On the one hand, we found that elevation positively affected the extinction probability of roe deer, and that pasture negatively affected its detectability. On the other hand, livestock positively affected both the chamois’ extinction and detection probabilities. Both species also changed their daily activity patterns to avoid humans. Evidence suggest a spatial segregation from livestock for chamois and a daily temporal segregation from humans of these two wild herbivores.

ID: 300
Specific Research Poster
Winter nights during summer time: stress physiological and cytological strategies of a nival species to survive freezing temperatures within the growing season

Keywords: nival, plants, freezing, stress

Stegner, Matthias; Schäfernolte, Tanja; Lackner, Barbara; Holzinger, Andreas; Neuner, Gilbert
University of Innsbruck, Department of Botany, Sternwartestraße 15, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria

Poster Abstract:

In the nival zone frost events occur during the growing period. Leaves of Ranunculus glacialis manage recurrent ice formation during night frosts without damage. The frequency and severity of night frosts in leaves at a natural growing site (3185m a.s.l.) was monitored and the cellular response to extracellular ice was assessed with a cryo-microscopic system.

With increasing elevation atmospheric air density and moisture content decreases. These conditions lead to a higher probability and intensity of leaf temperature depressions below air temperature. While at 48 days in July and August 2018 air temperature did not drop below 0°C, in contrast, the daily minimum leaf temperature was below 0°C in 50% of the cases. The lowest leaf temperature recorded in this period was ‑5.9°C. Therefore, ice tolerance is obligatory in leaves of R. glacialis.

Extracellular ice nucleation occurred at mean temperature of ‑2.6°C in the field. Upon ice formation mesophyll cells of R. glacialis got immediately subjected to freezing cytorrhysis, as investigated by a cryo-microscopical investigation. This is caused by rapid water removal out of the cells. A maximal reduction of the two-dimensional cell area to 51% was found, when compared to the non‑frozen stage. Evidence for elastic cell walls may explain the ability of cellular shrinkage as a reaction to extracellular ice formation. Surface reduction of the plasma membrane is accompanied by FIV (freezing induced vesicle) formation as observed by the membrane dye FM 1-43.

The flexible structure of mesophyll cells of R. glacialis allows survival of freezing events by cytorrhysis. This appears significant for survival in the nival zone where ice nucleation occurs frequently within the narrow summer growing period. The results are illustrating that atmospheric temperatures insufficiently describe the environmental strain on small statured plants and as such may not be used to assess plant performance or distribution patterns.


ID: 340
Specific Research Poster
The Australian Mountain Research Infrastructure Facility

Venn, Susanna
Deakin University, Australia

Poster Abstract:

Australia's iconic high mountains provide critical water supply, clean energy, unique biodiversity, recreation and education opportunities. They face an ecological crisis from climate and land use change. The newly funded Australian Mountain Environmental Research Infrastructure Facility (AMRIF) brings together leading institutions and researchers across four jurisdictions to produce world-leading ecosystem, evolutionary and biophysical science to guide adaptive management of high mountains across Australia. It will support research to assess the extent and effects of changing climate, water and fire regimes on ecosystem processes and their feedbacks and provide a structure for integrated research, management and governance of Australia's mountains.

The AMRIF network will provide critical facilities to catalyse and support world-leading ecosystem, evolutionary and biophysical science to engage and build capacity of decision makers adaptively managing Australia's mountains. Collaboration among the network partners will address both fundamental knowledge gaps about the response of mountain systems to climate change and deliver applied outcomes for on-ground management. We aim to work for a future in which water delivery ecosystem function can be maintained in the face of transformational change in climate and land use patterns. Our approach will set a leading example with applications to protected areas worldwide.

ID: 367
Specific Research Poster
Microbial diversity in soils along an high-alpine altitudinal gradient

Keywords: Altitudinal gradient, Biodiversity, Bacteria, Archaea, Fungi, Climate change, Soil metagenomics

Praeg, Nadine1; Pauli, Harald2; Illmer, Paul1
1University of Innsbruck, Department of Microbiology, Technikerstrasse 25d, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria; 2Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research & University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Department of Integrative Biology and Biodiversity Research, Silbergasse 30/3, 1190 Vienna, Austria

Poster Abstract:

Microorganisms are normal inhabitants of the most common habitats of mountains, such as glaciers, rock surfaces, pioneer plants rhizosphere and mineral soils and are key players in biogeochemical cycles. Consequently, microorganisms are crucial and fundamental actors capable of enriching mineral soil with nutrients. But, microbial activities are strongly influenced by temperature and humidity and environmental fluctuations can exert a strong pressure on microbial communities.

(High)-Alpine ecosystems are of great interest from an ecological point of view since they are characterized by altitudinal gradients facing all consequences of climate change to a high extent. Serving as ‘natural laboratories’, altitudinal gradients offer the possibility of studying the diversity and distribution of microorganisms in response to changing environmental conditions that typically occur over short geographical distances.

In this study, we investigated the microbial communities in soils along an high-alpine altitudinal gradient (2600 m to 3400 m a.s.l.). Research area of this study was Mount (Mt.) ‘Schrankogel’ in the Central Alps of Tyrol (Austria). The master site ‘Schrankogel’ is part of a GLORIA (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments) project and comprises the transition area of the alpine to nival altitudinal belt. Microbial diversity (prokaryotes and fungi) were determined using molecular tools (via next-generation sequencing).

Our results show that microbial diversity along the elevation gradient did not follow typical linear patterns with decreasing diversity with increasing elevation but revealed distinct correlations with physical and nutrient parameters along the altitudinal gradient. Furthermore, several very abundant taxa showed non-linear abundance patterns. Molecular tools revealed the high abundance of many taxa (Acidobacteria, Planctomycetes and Verrucomicrobia, comprising about 25% of the relative abundance of total prokaryotes) of which most members are not cultivable and thus their functions in soils are completely unknown.


ID: 404
Specific Research Poster
Variability in activity restriction time and local persistence of mountain lizards coping with global warming

Keywords: mountain lizards, operative temperature, variance, extinction, Pyrenees

HUGON, Florèn; LIQUET, Benoit; D'AMICO, Frank

Poster Abstract:

Mountain lizard species are coping with climate change in an arena arising from a collision of ecophysiological niches where before the next century, the risk of extinction will differ greatly. In the Western Pyrenees, we study the expected “loser” species Iberolacerta bonnali and the expected “winner” species Podarcis liolepis, then contrasting this pair to the outsider Podarcis muralis. The process of local extinction or persistence of populations may be estimated by calculating the activity restriction time, when lizards are in refuge because the felt temperature is too warm to ensure efficiently physiological functions. We investigate how spatial and temporal variations in restriction time may sustain differential persistence between localities and years and how such a wealth of information may be used to improve extinction risk modeling.

Different models made of temperature data-loggers in PVC tubes, which mimic lizard size and simulate warm air movements in the body, are set to measure operative temperature, thereby enabling non-invasive estimation of body temperature, both in insolation and in refuge situations at different altitudes and slope expositions, therefore examining spatial variability. Annual replication of the experiments allows for explicit modeling of temporal variability. Using physiological information on preferred temperature, we derive activity and restriction time that can be ultimately integrated into a mathematical expression of the probability of extinction. Extinction risk is elevated when warm operative temperatures restrict foraging hours during breeding season.

Despite high variability between sites, localities and years, observed restriction and activity time define high altitude and north side localities as potential thermal refuges. Thus, studies should consider all the spatial and temporal variability of data as relevant information which has the ability to affect modeling outputs. Explicit modeling of spatial and temporal micro-climatic variability is the basis of a multi-dimensional framework allowing for a better understanding of ecophysiological niches.


ID: 414
Specific Research Poster
Environmental forests beyond the Arctic treeline in Norway

Keywords: Mountain forests, treeline, birch, climate

Skre, Oddvar1; Karlsen, Stein-Rune2; Wielgolaski, Frans-Emil3
1Skre Nature and Environment; 2NORCE - Norwegian Research Centre; 3University of Oslo

Poster Abstract:

In 1984, seedlings of a number of hardy Alaskan provenances of Picea engelmannii, P. glauca, P. sitchensis, P. x lutzii, as well as of Abies lasiocarpa, Larix siberica and a northern Norwegian provenance Picea abies. were transplanted in small openings in a willow thicket at Vardø on the Arctic coast of Norway (70oN). In 2002 seedlings of nine provenances of Betula pubescens var tortuosa were transplanted to a site close to the willow thicket.

In 2010, after 25 years of growth about 70% of the sheltered plantations had survived, and the surviving trees were still partly protected by snow. Although many apical shoots later were injured when passing the maximum snow cover of about 1.5 meter, some had also continued the height growth. Highest survival rates were found in provenances of Picea x lutzii and P. glauca, but also specimens of P. abies had survived, while Abies lasiocarpa and Larix siberica seemed to have a strong tendency to form several apical shoots that were not able to progress through the snow surface layer. In birch (Betula pubescens var. tortuosa) a clear difference was found in survival rates and dates of budbreak between the four cold and wet plots and the sheltered and snow-free replicate, illustrating the effect of different snow cover, microclimate and soil properties. The sheltered replicate at the Vardø site showed almost the same growth response and survival rate as comparable seedlings from a site near Kilpisjärvi, Finland, but in contrast to the Finnish site, the northern and coastal birch provenances from Vardø were more successful than the birch seedlings from continental areas in Finnish Lapland.


ID: 528
Specific Research Poster
Changes in floristic and faunistic species composition at the LTER site Obergurgl

Keywords: LTER, Obergurgl, species composition, changes

Schallhart, Nikolaus1,2; Erschbamer, Brigitta1,2; Kaufmann, Ruediger1,2
1University of Innsbruck, Austria; 2Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl

Poster Abstract:

The Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl is responsible for the management of the LTER site Obergurgl. One of the fundamental tasks of a Long Term Ecosystem Research site is to supply data for the characterization of the present habitats and its changes over time, and the contribution of these data to the worldwide LT(S)ER network in order to detect and interpret the ongoing changes in space and time. Therefore, the Alpine Research Centre Obergurgl, regularly runs monitoring campaigns on the species composition of different habitats along elevation gradients from the subalpine (1950 m a.s.l.) to the subnival zone (2900 m a.s.l.), additionally to permanent meteorological measurements. At present, monitoring data exist for a period of around 20 years from the glacier foreland and yet another 10 plant communities.

In summer 2018, an extensive field campaign was conducted again. The floristic assessment was carried out on 108 plots of 1 m². Hedge’s g* was calculated for species richness and Shannon index. They changed significantly from the first to the recent monitoring on 8 out of 20 sites. Highest divergencies occurred at the subalpine zone.

The faunistic monitoring comprised the use of Barber-traps on more than 100 positions along the elevation gradient, 48 transects of net catches of Saltatoria and an extensive monitoring of anthills, all within the habitats of the LTER site. In this poster, we want to highlight the changes of invertebrate species composition compared to earlier campaigns.

ID: 605
Specific Research Poster
Ecological responses of increased temperatures and novel competitor in alpine plants

Nomoto Akiko, Hanna
ETH, Zürich, Switzerland

Poster Abstract:

One of the most urgent challenges in ecology today is to understand how species and communities respond to climate change. Until now, studies have mainly focused on understanding how direct consequences of climate change, such as increased temperatures, effect plant species and communities. However, recent studies have highlighted the importance of understanding indirect consequences of climate change, such as shifts in biotic interactions, and their role in shaping species responses to climate change on both individual and population level.

In this study, we investigated how alpine plants respond to increased temperatures and novel low elevation competitors that are predicted to migrate upwards to track their optimum temperatures. We tested this by transplanting alpine plant species along a climatic gradient in the Swiss Alps where individuals were planted in either novel low elevation or current alpine communities. For two seasons (2017-2018), data of survival, flowering probability, vegetative size and leaf traits for each individual was collected and analyzed. Demographic responses on population level were investigated using IPMs (Integral Projection Models).

The effects of increased temperatures on the probability of flowering and surviving is both species and year specific, vegetative size tends to increase when experiencing warming. In contrary, there is a consistent negative effect on survival, flowering and vegetative size among species and between years when individuals compete with novel low elevation individuals that are expected to migrate upwards to track their optimal temperature when temperatures increase. SLA is instead increase when individuals grow with novel competitors and experience the most extreme temperature scenario.


ID: 2677 
Specific Research Poster
Impacts of non-native species in the functional spectrum of alpine plant communities in the central Chilean Andes 

Lohengrin, Cavieres; Graciela, Valencia; Maritza, Mihoc
Universidad de Concepción & Instituto de Ecología y Biodiversidad, Chile

Poster Abstract:

Over a thousand non-native species have become naturalized in alpine habitats worldwide, and their spread may pose a threat to these vital ecosystems. However, little is known about the impacts of the presence of these invasive species on the native biota, particularly on aspect directly related with ecosystem functioning. In this study we assessed if the presence of non-native species affects the functional spectrum of plant communities at different elevations in the central Chilean Andes. In particular, we assessed the effects of the non-natives Tanacetum parthenium, Cynoglossum creticum and Taraxacum officinale at different elevations between 2500 and 3600 m a.s.l. We sampled vegetation patches dominated by the non-natives and patches dominated by native species, where we measured a series of functional traits related to reproduction (seed size, flower color) and growth (size, SLA, N leaf content, C/N leaf ratio).

In general, the functional diversity indices indicated that patches dominated by the non-natives did not differ from patches dominated by natives, although at lower elevations there was a trend for decreased functional diversity in the non-natives patches. In contrast, assessments of total functional volume indicated that, regardless elevation, patches dominated by non-natives had a bigger functional volume than native patches. Thus, non-native species contain different functional traits compared to natives. However, indicators of ecosystem functioning showed no effects of the presence of non-native species. Thus, a complex network of site-specific responses and effects were observed, opening questions about the real impact of non-native species on the native vegetation and how this can vary in the future.

Fondecyt-1171005 & CONICYT PIA CCTE AFB 170008.


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