Global change has many facets. Alpine biota will respond to elevated CO2, enhanced N-deposition, accumulation of volatile pollutants, climatic warming and its side effects in a rather differentiated way. Responses will largely depend on species, current habitat conditions and the speed and extent of change. There is no common recipe that generally holds.

CO 2-effects will be small and largely materialise via effects on organismic interactions and biodiversity effects. N-deposition may exceed the impact of all other atmospheric changes in high impact zones, but be neglegible elsewhere. Organic pollutants will be most effective in aquatic food chains, direct warming effects will cause cold adapted pioneers to migrate upslope provided summits are high enough. A spatial re-allocation of vegetation mosaics, following topographical gradients and snow cover patterns, will be seen. Massive consequences of warming are associated with the retreat of glaciers and melting of permaforst .

All these effects may, however, become overridden by human land use, globally the most imortant component of global change.

Further reading

Part of this unit has been extracted from Körner Ch (2003) Alpine Plant Life: functional plant ecology of high mountain ecosystems. Springer, Berlin, chapter 17


(Institute of Botany, Ecology - University of Basel)
Concept and content, photographs
(Institute of Zoology, Evolution - University of Basel)
Technical realisation, photographs