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Nature. 2018 Apr;556(7700):231-234. doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0005-6. Epub 2018 Apr 4.

Accelerated increase in plant species richness on mountain summits is linked to warming.

Author information

1
Section for Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark. manuel.steinbauer@fau.de.
2
GeoZentrum Nordbayern, Department of Geography and Geosciences, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), Erlangen, Germany. manuel.steinbauer@fau.de.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
4
Landscape Ecology, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany.
5
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland.
6
CNRS, UMR 7058 EDYSAN, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, Amiens, France.
7
GLORIA Coordination, Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW-IGF), Vienna, Austria.
8
GLORIA Coordination, Center for Global Change and Sustainability at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU-gW/N), Vienna, Austria.
9
Department of Life Sciences and Systems Biology, University of Torino, Torino, Italy.
10
Section for Ecoinformatics and Biodiversity, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
11
School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK.
12
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
13
Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
14
Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), Birmensdorf, Switzerland.
15
Białowiez˙ a Geobotanical Station, Faculty of Biology, University of Warsaw, Białowiez˙ a, Poland.
16
W. Szafer Institute of Botany, Polish Academy of Sciences, Kraków, Poland.
17
Department of Botany and Biodiversity Research, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
18
Department of Botany, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
19
Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología (IPE-CSIC), Huesca, Spain.
20
International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.
21
Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway.
22
Institute of Biology/Geobotany and Botanical Garden, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany.
23
School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK.
24
Institute of Landscape Ecology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia.
25
Department of Landscape Monitoring, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Tromsø, Norway.
26
Department for Community Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Halle, Germany.
27
Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
28
Environmental Protection Agency of Aosta Valley, Saint-Christophe, Italy.
29
Center for Biodiversity Dynamics in a Changing World (BIOCHANGE), Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.
30
Department of Natural Sciences and Environmental Health, University College of Southeast Norway, Bø, Norway.
31
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Oslo, Norway.
32
Administration of the Tatra National Park, Svit, Slovakia.
33
Bergwelten 21 AG, Davos Platz, Switzerland.
34
Centre Alpien de Phytogéographie, Fondation J.-M. Aubert, Champex-Lac, Switzerland.
35
Section of Biology, University of Geneva, Chambésy, Switzerland.
36
Department of Environmental Systems Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETH, Zurich, Switzerland.
37
WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Davos, Switzerland. sonja.wipf@slf.ch.

Abstract

Globally accelerating trends in societal development and human environmental impacts since the mid-twentieth century 1-7 are known as the Great Acceleration and have been discussed as a key indicator of the onset of the Anthropocene epoch 6 . While reports on ecological responses (for example, changes in species range or local extinctions) to the Great Acceleration are multiplying 8, 9 , it is unknown whether such biotic responses are undergoing a similar acceleration over time. This knowledge gap stems from the limited availability of time series data on biodiversity changes across large temporal and geographical extents. Here we use a dataset of repeated plant surveys from 302 mountain summits across Europe, spanning 145 years of observation, to assess the temporal trajectory of mountain biodiversity changes as a globally coherent imprint of the Anthropocene. We find a continent-wide acceleration in the rate of increase in plant species richness, with five times as much species enrichment between 2007 and 2016 as fifty years ago, between 1957 and 1966. This acceleration is strikingly synchronized with accelerated global warming and is not linked to alternative global change drivers. The accelerating increases in species richness on mountain summits across this broad spatial extent demonstrate that acceleration in climate-induced biotic change is occurring even in remote places on Earth, with potentially far-ranging consequences not only for biodiversity, but also for ecosystem functioning and services.

PMID:
29618821
DOI:
10.1038/s41586-018-0005-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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