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New GMBA paper: A climate-based model to predict potential treeline position around the globe

Jens Paulsen and Christian Körner (2014) A climate-based model to predict potential treeline position around the globe. Alpine Botany DOI 10.1007/s00035-014-0124-0

The paper describes the treeline model that was used for the GMBA mountain portal (www.mountainbiodiversity.org), which offers a robust estimation of potential treeline elevation based on climate data only. With this model, the alpine area of all mountains of the world can be determined.

Abstract: In situ temperature measurements revealed that the position of the high-elevation treeline is associated with a minimum seasonal mean air temperature within a tempera- ture-defined minimum season length across latitudes. Here, we build upon this experience and present the results of a global statistical analysis and a predictive model for low temperature treeline positions. We identified 376 natural treelines from satellite images across the globe, and searched for their closest climatic proxies using a climate database. The analysis included a snow and a water balance submodel to account for season length constraints by snow pack and drought. We arrive at thermal treeline criteria almost identical to those that emerged from the earlier in situ measurements: tree growth requires a minimum length of the growing season of 94 days. The model yields best fit when the season is defined as all days with a daily mean temperature [0.9 °C, and a mean of 6.4 °C across all these days. The resultant treeline model ‘TREELIM’ offers a robust estimation of potential treeline elevation based on climate data only. Error terms include imprecise treeline position in satellite images and climate approximations in mountainous terrain. The algorithm permits constraining low temperature limits of forest growth worldwide (including polar treelines) and also permits a bioclimatic stratification of mountain biota, for instance, for biodiversity assessments. As a side product, the model yields the global potentially forested area. The results support the isotherm theory for natural treeline formation. This completely independent statistical assessment of the climatic drivers of the global treeline phenomenon confirmed the results of a multi-year measurement campaign.

You can access the article at Springer,.
or order a copy from the authors at gmba[at]unibas.ch

Special issue in Plant Ecology & Diversity 2011 on "Mountain Biodiversity"

Mountain Biodiversity. Plant Ecology & Diversity Volume 4, Issue 4, 2011

This special issue was edited by the GMBA office in Basel and offers a set of papers that were presented at the Second International Conference on Mountain Biodiversity. With this conference, the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment of DIVERSITAS celebrated its 10th anniversary, in the Alps in Chandolin, Switzerland in July 2010.

The issue illuminates a broad spectrum of biodiversity issues related to mountain environments, ranging from genetic diversity to ecosystem functioning, from field-based inventories to computerbased assessments.

You can access the articles at Plant Ecology & Diversity.

Table of content

Mountain biodiversity (editorial)
Eva M. Spehn, Katrin Rudmann-Maurer & Christian Körner

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Drought at erosion edges selects for a 'hidden' keystone species
Riccarda Caprez, Eva Spehn, George Nakhutsrishvili & Christian Körner

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Taking the scenic route - the southern Great Escarpment (South Africa) as part of the Cape to Cairo floristic highway
Vincent R. Clark, Nigel Barker & Laco Mucina

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Horizontal growth in arctic-alpine clonal plants is not affected by climatic variability among regions
Lucienne C. de Witte & Jürg Stöcklin

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Can successional species groups be discriminated based on their life history traits? A study from a glacier foreland in the Central Alps
Brigitta Erschbamer & Roland Mayer

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Non-congruence among hotspots based on three common diversity measures in Yunnan, south-west China
Jian-Meng Feng, Zhao Zhang & Ren-Yong Nan

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Elevational distribution limits of non-native species: combining observational and experimental evidence
Sylvia Haider, Jake M. Alexander & Christoph Kueffer

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Are clonal plants more frequent in cold environments than elsewhere?
Jitka Klimesova & Jiri Dolezal

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Plant growth and fitness of Scabiosa columbaria under climate warming conditions
Andrea R. Pluess, Esther Frei, Chris J. Kettle, Thomas Hahn & Jaboury Ghazoul

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Assessing long-term land-use legacies in subalpine grasslands by using a plant trait-based generic modelling framework
Fabien Quétier, Sandra Lavorel, Pierre Liancourt, Aurélie Thébault & Ian D. Davies

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Glacial history and local adaptation explain differentiation in phenotypic traits in the Alpine grassland herb Campanula barbata
J.F. Scheepens & Jürg Stöcklin

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Using historical plant surveys to track biodiversity on mountain summits
Veronika Stöckli, Sonja Wipf, Cajsa Nilsson & Christian Rixen

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Effects of climate change and how to manage them

Eva Spehn (2011) Effects of climate change and how to manage them.
ICIMOD periodical 60:40-43, Earth Observation and Climate Change

Mountain ecosystems are characterised by steep environmental gradients, including steep gradients of temperature and moisture. They are islands of high-elevation habitats, isolated by the surrounding lowlands. Changes in environmental conditions are especially threatening endemic species that occur in limited areas, such as on mountain peaks. Of these changes, shorter periods of snow cover below the tree line and changes in water availability may be more important drivers of change than temperature change itself. The likely losers from climate warming among plant species in the mountains are late successional species, species with small,restricted populations, and species confined to the summits or the plains; in comparison, ruderal species (weeds), species with large, widespread populations, and mid-slope species are likely to be winners.

Download article here (PDF, 0.5 MB)

or download the whole periodical at ICIMOD ICIMOD.

A definition of mountains and their bioclimatic belts for global comparisons of biodiversity data

Christian Körner, Jens Paulsen and Eva M. Spehn (2011) A definition of mountains and their bioclimatic belts for global comparisons of biodiversity data. Alpine Botany, DOI 10.1007/s00035-011-0094-4

This is the first quantitative attempt at a global areal definition of ‘alpine’ and ‘montane’ terrain by combining geographical information systems for topography with bioclimatic criteria (temperature) subdividing the life zones along elevational gradients. The mountain definition adopted here refrains from any truncation by low elevation thresholds, and defines the world’s mountains by a common ruggedness threshold ([200 m difference in elevation within a 2.50 cell, 0.50 resolution), arriving at 16.5 Mio km2 or 12.3% of all terrestrial land area outside Antartica being mountains. The model employed accounts for criteria of ‘‘mountainous terrain’’ for biological analysis, and thus arrives at a smaller land area fraction than hydrologically oriented approaches, and by its 2.50 resolution, it includes less unstructured terrain (such as large plateaus, very wide valleys or basins) than earlier approaches. The thermal delineation of the alpine and nival biogeographic region by the climatic tree limit (the lower boundary of the alpine belt) arrives at 2.6% or 3.55 Mio km2 of the global land area outside Antarctica (21.5% of all mountain terrain). Seven climate-defined life zones in mountains facilitate large-scale (global) comparisons of biodiversity information as used in the new electronic ‘Mountain Biodiversity Portal’ of the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA).

Download article here http://www.springer.com/alert/urltracking.do?id=L1cb1e3M8441e3Sae6ee59

Mountain Biodiversity and global change

Mountain Biodiversity and global change

Spehn EM, Rudmann-Maurer K, Körner C, and Maselli D (Eds) 2010

This brochure by GMBA and SDC has been prepared as a contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity IYB 2010 and the Conference of Parties of the CBD (COP10) in Japan in October 2010. It aims to highlight the role and importance of mountain biodiversity for the whole of humanity. With its attractive photographs, the publication intends to sensitize its readers to the beauty and significance of mountain biodiversity.

Download the brochure here (PDF, 8.2 MB).

or order a copy free of charge at gmba [at] unibas.ch

Mountains and Climate Change – From Understanding to Action

GMBA participated in the publication on “Mountains and Climate Change – From Understanding to Action”, which was officially launched during COP15, produced by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Centre for Development and Environment at the University of Bern.

You can download a pdf: http://www.cde.unibe.ch/

or order it (free of charge) at: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) University of Bern CH-3012 Bern, Switzerland

online order: http://www.cde.unibe.ch/

Data Mining for Global Trends in Mountain Biodiversity

Datamining for global trends in mountain biodiversity
Spehn EM and Körner Ch (Eds) (2010)

Thanks to advances in electronic archiving of biodiversity data and the digitization of climate and other geophysical data, a new era in biogeography, functional ecology, and evolutionary ecology has begun. In Data Mining for Global Trends in Mountain Biodiversity, Christian Korner, Eva M. Spehn, and a team of experts from the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment of DIVERSITAS explore two of the hottest subjects in science and technology: biodiversity and data mining. They demonstrate how to harness the scientific power of biological databases for furthering ecological and evolutionary theory.

Electronic databases can open new pathways for testing evolutionary and ecological theory across the world’s mountain ranges. The new GMBA book examines global trends in mountain biodiversity using electronic biodiversity databases. GMBA experts provide examples of successful mining of geo-referenced data, methodological approaches, and comparisons of mountain regions on a continental scale.

Here you can order the book: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781420083699

Global Statistics of ‘‘Mountain’’ and ‘‘Alpine’’ Research

Ch. Körner (2009) Global Statistics of ‘‘Mountain’’ and ‘‘Alpine’’ Research. Mountain Research and Development, 29(1), 97-102.

Using the Web of Science, a bibliometric analysis of the worldwide research activities associated with mountains — or the alpine part of mountains — is presented, according to country, institution, and subject. Half of the human population depends on mountains in one way or another, and mountains cover (depending on the definition) between 12 and 26% of the ice-free terrestrial area. About 20% of the human population lives in mountains or their immediate forelands. One third of all protected areas are in mountains, and they supply water to nearly one half of the world population (Körner and Ohsawa 2005). Which are the countries that are contributing most to scientific research in mountains? Which are the leading institutions? How much are various fields of science contributing to the international scientific mountain literature?

Download article here http://www.bioone.org/doi/pdf/10.1659/mrd.1108

Beyond counting: Biodiversity drives system Earth

Ch. Körner (2008) Beyond counting: Biodiversity drives system Earth. ESSP newsletter France/Lettre pigb-pmrc France, 21: 90-97.

Publication of a lecture given by C. Körner at : Global Environmental Change : Regional Challenges. An Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) Open Science Conference - 09-12 November 2006, Beijing, China.

Download article here (PDF, 1.6 MB).

Creative use of Mountain Biodiversity Databases: The Kazbegi Research Agenda of GMBA-DIVERSITAS

Ch. Körner, M. Donoghue, T. Fabbro, Ch. Häuser, D. Nogués-Bravo, M. T. Kalin Arroyo, J. Soberon, L. Speers, E. M. Spehn, H. Sun, A. Tribsch, P. Tykarski, and N. Zbinden (2007) Creative Use of Mountain Biodiversity Databases: The Kazbegi Research Agenda of GMBA-DIVERSITAS. Mountain Research and Development, 27(3), 276-281.

Geo-referenced archive databases on mountain organisms are very promising tools for achieving a better understanding of mountain biodiversity and predicting its changes. The wide range of climatic conditions and topographies across the world's mountains offers an unparalleled opportunity for developing and testing biodiversity theory. The power of openly accessible, interconnected electronic databases for scientific biodiversity research, which by far exceeds the original intent of archiving for mainly taxonomic purposes, has been illustrated. There is an urgent need to increase the amount and quality of geo-referenced data on mountain biodiversity provided online, in order to meet the challenges of global change in mountains.

This document was first published in Mountain Research and Development (MRD, see: www.mrd-journal.org) and is reproduced courtesy of MRD. The copyright remains with UNU and IMS, MRD's copyrightholders.

Download article here (PDF, 248 KB).

Georeferenced Biological Databases – A tool for Understanding Mountain Biodiversity, MRI Newsletter 8

Guisan A, EM Spehn and C Körner. 2007. MRI Newsletter 8: Georeferenced Biological Databases – A tool for Understanding Mountain Biodiversity. Mountain Research and Development, 27(1):80-81.

Data-bases on biodiversity linked to geophysical data (e.g. altitude, temperature) are valuable tools for the analysis of biodiversity patterns. In cooperation with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) encourages a global effort to mine georeferenced archive databases on mountain organisms. The EUROMONT initiative is one example of such a data analysis. It assesses climate threat to alpine plant diversity and focuses on European mountain ranges.

Download article here (PDF, 264 KB).

Land use change and mountain biodiversity

Land use change and mountain biodiversity
Spehn EM, M Libermann and Körner Ch (Eds) (2006)

The book contains research presented at two major Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment workshops. It includes an overview chapter on high elevation land use, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning. A synthesis covers impacts on highland biodiversity, with a focus on fire and grazing. Examples from the tropical Andes and Africa, the European Alps, and the Himalayas reveal valuable data and references.

For book orders visit CRC Press.

Download Flyer (PDF, 444 KB)

Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment

Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment
Spehn EM, Körner Ch (2005)

The brochure offers fast facts on mountain biodiversity and top reasons to promote conservation and sustainable use of mountain ecosystems. It also provides information on current GMBA projects, activities, and its structure.

Download brochure (PDF small version 724 KB, PDF large version 1.7 MB) or order a free copy at gmba-at-unibas.ch

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Chapter on Mountain Ecosystems

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Chapter on Mountain Ecosystems
Körner C, Ohsawa M et al. 2005. Mountain Systems. Chapter 24. In: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Current State and Trends: Findings of the Condition and Trends Working Group. Ecosystems and Human Well-being, Vol. 1, Island Press, Washington DC.

GMBA coordinated and contributed to the chapter on status and trends in Mountain Ecosystems of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The chapter assesses the available knowledge on physical, biological, economic, and social conditions in the world's mountain areas and describes their likely future.

For book orders or PDF files visit (see chapter 24): www.maweb.org.

A temporal approach to linking aboveground and belowground ecology

Richard D Bardgett et al. 2005. A temporal approach to linking aboveground and belowground ecology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 20 (11):634-641. Article online

The publication contains the results of the GMBA Workshop on functional significance of mountain biodiversity. The event was organised by William Bowman (University of Boulder, Colorado USA) and held at ESA 2004 conference. The paper was published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution and illustrates the role of aboveground-belowground relationships in controlling ecosystem processes and properties. The examples derive mostly from the alpine zone.

For electronic copies contact gmba-at-unibas.ch.

GMBA Moshi - La Paz Research Agenda on Land Use Effects on Tropical and Subtropical Mountain Biodiversity

GMBA Moshi - La Paz Research Agenda
Diversitas Newsletter no. 5, 2003, p. 14 (PDF, 114 KB)

Mountain biodiversity: a global assessment

Mountain biodiversity: a global assessment
Körner Ch, Spehn EM (2002)

The book is a contribution to the International Year of the Mountains in 2002. It brings together knowledge from around the world, gathered from contributions to the first international conference on mountain biodiversity, its function and change.

For book orders please contact the CRC Press.

Mountain biodiversity matters

Mountain Biodiversity Matters
Körner Ch, Spehn EM, Messerli B (2001)

The brochure contains the executive summary of the 1st International Conference on Mountain Biodiversity Assessment 2000 (Rigi-Kaltbad, Switzerland), published by the Swiss Academy of Sciences SCNAT in cooperation with the United Nations University UNU (Tokyo, Japan)

Download the brochure (PDF, 377 KB)