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
A new potential biomarker for cancer imaging
05.02.2016 | Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
NIH researchers identify striking genomic signature shared by 5 types of cancer
05.02.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Automobiles increase the mobility of their users. However, their maneuverability is pushed to the limit by cramped inner city conditions. Those who need to...
Advance in biomedical imaging: The University of Würzburg's Biocenter has enhanced fluorescence microscopy to label and visualise up to nine different cell structures simultaneously.
Fluorescence microscopy allows researchers to visualise biomolecules in cells. They label the molecules using fluorescent probes, excite them with light and...
NASA's follow-on to the successful ICESat mission will employ a never-before-flown technique for determining the topography of ice sheets and the thickness of sea ice, but that won't be the only first for this mission.
Slated for launch in 2018, NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) also will carry a 3-D printed part made of polyetherketoneketone (PEKK),...
In the last decades, sea level has been rising continuously – about 3.3 mm per year. For reef islands such as the Maldives or the Marshall Islands a sinister picture is being painted evoking the demise of the island states and their cultures. Are the effects of sea-level rise already noticeable on reef islands? Scientists from the ZMT have now answered this question for the Takuu Atoll, a group of Pacific islands, located northeast of Papua New Guinea.
In the last decades, sea level has been rising continuously – about 3.3 mm per year. For reef islands such as the Maldives or the Marshall Islands a sinister...
The ‘Internet of Things’ is growing rapidly. Mobile phones, washing machines and the milk bottle in the fridge: the idea is that minicomputers connected to these will be able to process information, receive and send data. This requires electrical power. Transistors that are capable of switching information with a single electron use far less power than field effect transistors that are commonly used in computers. However, these innovative electronic switches do not yet work at room temperature. Scientists working on the new EU research project ‘Ions4Set’ intend to change this. The program will be launched on February 1. It is coordinated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR).
“Billions of tiny computers will in future communicate with each other via the Internet or locally. Yet power consumption currently remains a great obstacle”,...
02.02.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
26.01.2016 | Event News
05.02.2016 | Life Sciences
05.02.2016 | Materials Sciences
05.02.2016 | Physics and Astronomy