Climate warming is changing the distribution of plants and animals worldwide. Recently it was shown that in the past two decades, European bird and butterfly communities have moved on average 37 and 114 kilometers to the north, respectively.
Plants are moving uphill due to rising temperatures. In figure: Leopard’s bane (Doronicum clusii). Illustration: Jörg Schmill
Tobias Roth and Valentin Amrhein from the University of Basel now found that in Switzerland, plant, butterfly and bird species also moved uphill. At an altitude of 500 meters, plants have on average shifted uphill 8 meters, butterflies 38 meters and birds 42 meters. The study was based on data collected between 2003 and 2010 in 214 sample areas up to an altitude of 3000 meters, covering all major ecosystems of Central Europe.
“An average of eight meters difference in altitude in eight years and across all plant species is quite impressive for the often not very mobile plant communities”, says Valentin Amrhein. “The results show that the biological impacts of climate change will not only become apparent in the long term. Animals and plants are already today adapting to the rising temperatures at a surprising pace.”
Different Trends above the Tree Line
While birds also moved uphill at higher altitudes, plants and butterflies surprisingly showed no significant changes in altitude above the tree line. Contrary to the developments in lower altitudes, alpine plants and butterflies even showed a tendency towards a downhill movement. Explanations for this phenomenon have yet to be found. “It is possible that land-use related changes in habitats near the tree line outweigh the effects of climate warming. For example, many alpine pastures have been abandoned in recent years”, says Tobias Roth. “It is also possible that alpine plants are better protected against changing climatic conditions, due to the highly varied surface of alpine landscapes.”
In any case, the fact that plant and butterfly communities have changed towards warm-dwelling species at low altitudes but remained relatively stable at higher altitudes cannot be explained with different temperature developments across altitudes. The scientists also studied data on air temperature of 14 meteorological stations: During the 16 years between 1995 and 2010, the summer temperatures in Switzerland rose by about 0.07 °C per year at all altitudes.
Plos One, published January 8th, 2014 | doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082490Further Information
• Dr. Tobias Roth, Hintermann & Weber AG, 4153 Reinach, Tel. +41 61 717 88 62, E-Mail: email@example.com
Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
08.12.2016 | Life Sciences
08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences