Ecological Studies Volume 167, 2003, pp 437-441

Recent Increases in Summit Flora Caused by Warming in the Alps

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Abstract

Plant species richness increased on many high-altitude mountain summits during the twentieth century. This has resulted from an up-slope migration of species, which has been attributed to climate warming (Braun-Blanquet 1957; Hofer 1992; Gottfried et al. 1994; Grabherr et al. 1994, 1995; Pauli et al. 1996; Chaps. 24 and 29). In 1986, Mount Glungezer, a high alpine summit in the Austrian Central Alps, was found to host 83 vascular plant species, a remarkably high number in an area of 4000 m2 (Bahn and Körner 1987). The present study reports a recent re-recording of the site by the same authors after the warmest period on record in the Alps. The aim of the study was to assess if an upward migration of plant species had taken place and if any changes in species composition and abundance occurred between 1986 and 1999–2000 within the different plant communities.