Climate change and timber line in the European mountains – current knowledge and perspectives
High mountain ecosystems are considered particularly vulnerable to climate change because productivity, composition, and diversity are directly limited by temperature. The European Alps experienced a 2°C increase in annual minimum temperatures during the twentieth century, with a marked rise since the early 1980s. Alpine plants have moved upward, community composition has changed at high alpine sites, and tree line species have responded to climate warming by invading the alpine zone and increasing growth rates during the last decades (Dirnböck et al. 2003). Some invasive species was introduced in multiple sites and subsequently dispersed to many other locations. On the other side severe declines of several rare plant species have been documented in the Western Swiss Alps. In this paper, I provide a brief synthesis of the current knowledge and perspectives regarding climate change and timber line in the European mountains.
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