Mountains may offer species 'refuge habitats' during climate change

Washington, Nov 10 (ANI): Swiss researchers have claimed that mountain ranges may represent a 'safer' place to live during changing climate conditions.

Daniel Scherrer and Christian Korner from the University of Basel, Switzerland used a high-resolution infrared camera and hundreds of soil sensors to monitor the actual temperature experienced by plants in alpine landscapes.

"Comparing various slopes, the study made it obvious that slope exposure and ruggedness of terrain produce a broad spectrum of life conditions not seen over similar areas in forests or in the forelands and plains," said Scherrer.

"While it was known from measurements with thermometers that plant and air temperatures can differ substantially in alpine terrain, the high degree of sustained thermal contrasts among habitats still came as a surprise," he added.

"We found that the occurrences of plant species across these mosaics of warmth match with their known temperature preferences," explained Korner.

This means that rugged alpine terrain offers refuge habitats for both small plants and animals that prefer cool life conditions.

The authors found that warm habitats become more frequent, and new, warmer habitats will become established, so habitat diversity will in fact increase.

"Mountains are therefore particularly important areas for the conservation of biodiversity in a given region under climatic change and thus deserve particular protection."

The research is published in the Journal of Biogeography. (ANI)

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