Will high-altitude plants go extinct in a changing climate? Long-term changes of European mountain flora
In recent decades, plant species in many mountain areas have expanded their distribution upwards, parallel with a trend of accelerated climate warming in many of these regions. To analyse the extent of floristic change in relation to local climate change over the long term, and to assess the sensitivity of mountain flora to changes in temperature, precipitation, and other potential drivers, a large span of sites and time periods, and a large variation in climate parameters is needed. Previous studies have shown that altitudinal shifts of vegetation are different for plant species found in snowbed communities and species found on ridges. In 1999 Einar Heegaard did a study of species distributions (vascular plants, bryophytes and lichens) from snowbeds to ridges using snowbed-ridge transects at different altitudes from approximately 1200 m above sea level and up to 1550 m. This summer we reanalyzed 21 of these transects. We will use these to study the differentiated altitudinal changes of vegetation of snowbed communities versus changes on the ridge communities.