Cushion plants are a type of plant found in areas such as Arctic environments, and are characterised by their distinctive, round, cushion-like shape.
Cushion Pink (Silene acaulis) is a good example of a cushion plant, and is one of the species that was studied in Sweden.
Photo: Henrik Antonsson
A new study highlights the strong interaction between cushion plants and other plants in the most severe of mountain environments.
“Cushion plants create additional viable living environments for other species, and are therefore important keystone species that provide the fundamental conditions required for greater biodiversity in the most extreme alpine environments,” explains Robert Björk, ecologist and researcher at the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Earth Sciences.
The studies show that these cushion plants create protective environments in the most inhospitable places for plants on earth for those species that are less tolerant to stress.
“We have shown that the more severe an environment is, the more cushion plants do to counteract the reduction in phylogenetic diversity. This relationship would not have been discovered if we not succeeded in discerning the interaction between plants.”
The researchers have studied 77 alpine plant communities on five continents. The cushion-like plant form has evolved more than 50 independent occasions in the higher plants’ evolutionary history, and can now be found in all major alpine, sub-Antarctic and Arctic regions around the world.
“If you compare the relationship between the species in the studied global species pool, cushion plants create even more phylogenetically unique plant communities the harsher the environments become, compared to the plant communities found in the adjacent open ground.”
The research has been partly financed through Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate (BECC), a strategic research area initiated by the Swedish Government.
Link to the article in Ecology Letters: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12070/abstractContact:
Annika Koldenius | idw
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
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,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy