Resurvey of a GLORIA Target Region in the Swiss National Park
- There is no doubt that recent global climate change is in process and affects life on earth. Especially mountain ecosystems are supposed to be highly sensitive to climate change due to the vertical compression of life zones, rough abiotic environment and limiting ecological factors. Therefore, the European Alps is one of the best observed ecosystems where many studies figured out how climate change is affecting biodiversity. Probably the biggest and most well-known project is the GLORIA-Europe initiative established by Prof. Dr. Georg Grabherr from University of Vienna. The aim of this project is to establish a world-wide long-term monitoring network in alpine ecosystems to detect effects of climate change on the vegetation of mountain summits using standardised methods. This study is involved in the GLORIA initiative to resurvey four calcareous and four siliceous summits at Swiss National Park in summer 2009/10. The aim of this study is to answer the questions if there are changes between the first (2002/03) and second survey in plant species number, species frequency and in heterogeneity between plots. Furthermore, is altitude, cardinal direction and bedrock influencing changes or are there species groups reacting different and what are the reasons behind it? In total 226 species were found in 2009 and 2010 with almost 80% more species on the siliceous summits. Species turnover rate between the two surveys is relatively high (15-30%) and also frequency is increasing for several species. But, there are no effects of bedrock or exposition and no differences for species groups. This study shows that fluctuation of species turnover is due to fluctuation of phenological development. Furthermore, differences in plot heterogeneity can be explained by phenological fluctuation. However, there are hints for initiating effects of climate change. The occurrence of L. decidua on three lower summits and the high content of new found species with a lower distribution limit at the montane belt on PMU as well as general increase in plant frequency could be caused by climate change. Hence, these hints of climate change should be focused on in future investigations as long-term effects of climate change are expected.