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Alpine flora dynamics: a critical review of responses to climate change in the Swedish Scandes since the early 1950s
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Arcum)
2010 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Botany, ISSN 0107-055X, E-ISSN 1756-1051, Vol. 28, no 4, 398-408 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Reports about changes of alpine plant species richness over the past 60 years in the Swedish Scandes are reviewed, synthesized and updated with data from recent reinventories. Methodologically, this endeavour is based on resurveys of the floristic composition on the uppermost 20 m of four high-mountain summits. The key finding is that the species pool has increased by 60-170% since the 1950s and later. Some of the invading species are new to the alpine tundra, with more silvine and thermophilic properties than the extant alpine flora. Not a single species of the original flora has disappeared from any of the summits. This circumstance is discussed in perspective of widespread expectations of pending temperature-driven extinction of alpine species in an alleged future warmer climate. These progressive changes coincided with distinct warming (summer and winter) since the late 1980s. During a short cooler period (1974-1994), the species numbers decreased and the upper elevational limits of some ground cover species descended. Thus, discernible responses, concurrent with both warming and cooling intervals, sustain a strong causal link between climate variability and alpine plant species richness. Methodologically, plot-less revisitation studies of the present kind are beset with substantial uncertainties, which may overstate floristic changes over time. However, it is argued here that carefully executed and critically interpreted, no other method can equally effectively sense the earliest phases of plant invasions into alpine vegetation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. Vol. 28, no 4, 398-408 p.
National Category
Plant Biotechnology
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-109051DOI: 10.1111/j.1756-1051.2010.00812.xISI: 000281551400002OAI: diva2:856272
Available from: 2015-09-23 Created: 2015-09-17 Last updated: 2016-05-20Bibliographically approved

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Kullman, Leif
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