News FocusEcology

Scientists--and Climbers--Discover Cliff Ecosystems

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Science  12 Mar 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5408, pp. 1623-1625
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5408.1623

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Researchers venturing onto remote bluffs are turning up surprisingly ancient and diverse communities, including rare plants and lichens, birds, and trees nearly 1000 years old. But rock climbers are taking out species even as scientists discover them, leading many parks to commission new studies on these hard-to-reach habitats. Not surprisingly, these studies are showing that climbers reduce plant cover and drive off birds.