BIOGEOGRAPHY

Different responses to climate change in mountain plants

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Science  23 Feb 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6378, pp. 881-882
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6378.881-c

Climate-driven changes in abundance could increase competition between high- and low-altitude plant species.

PHOTO: CULTURA RM/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

In a warming climate, the distributions of plant species inhabiting mountain slopes tend to move uphill. However, species abundance may also change, leading to altered dynamics in the plant communities. Rumpf et al., in a study of nearly 200 mountain species in the European Alps, recorded trends toward increased local abundance in the majority of species. In particular, plants from lower elevations tended to increase in abundance as their upper range limits shifted uphill, whereas those from higher elevations showed the opposite trend. Thus, higher-elevation species are more likely to lose out through the combined effects of climate change and competition.

Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. 10.1073/pnas.1713936115 (2018).

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