Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate changes the Distribution of Plants and Animals

09.01.2014
Swiss plants, butterflies and birds have moved 8 to 42 meters uphill between 2003 and 2010, as scientists from the University of Basel write in the online journal “Plos One”.

Plants are moving uphill due to rising temperatures. In figure: Leopard’s bane (Doronicum clusii). Illustration: Jörg Schmill

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.

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.

Original Citation
Tobias Roth, Matthias Plattner & Valentin Amrhein
Plants, birds and butterflies: short-term responses of species communities to climate warming vary by taxon and with altitude

Plos One, published January 8th, 2014 | doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082490

Further Information
• PD Dr. Valentin Amrhein, University of Basel, Department of Environmental Sciences, Tel. +41 79 848 99 33, E-Mail: v.amrhein@unibas.ch

• Dr. Tobias Roth, Hintermann & Weber AG, 4153 Reinach, Tel. +41 61 717 88 62, E-Mail: roth@hintermannweber.ch

Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch
http://www.unibas.ch/index.cfm?uuid=C261442790D4E1652C2B62C86D07CD2C&type=search&show_long=2

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Drought and fire in the Amazon lead to sharp increases in forest tree mortality
17.04.2014 | Penn State

nachricht Declining catch rates in Caribbean green turtle fishery may be result of overfishing
17.04.2014 | Wildlife Conservation Society

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Siemens at the 2014 UIC ERTMS World Conference in Istanbul

01.04.2014 | Event News

AERA Meeting: German and US-American educational researchers in dialogue

28.03.2014 | Event News

WHS Regional Meeting: International experts address health challenges in Latin America

24.03.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

A cross-section of the Universe

18.04.2014 | Physics and Astronomy

More, bigger wildfires burning western U.S., study shows

18.04.2014 | Studies and Analyses

High disease load reduces mortality of children

18.04.2014 | Social Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>