Climate change vulnerability of alpine plants hos Københavns Universitet

Climate change is expected to lead to an increase in global mean temperature of 1.4-4.4 °C compared to pre-industrial levels by the end of this century, with arctic and alpine ecosystems experiencing even stronger warming. In the European Alp, the rising temperatures have already caused dramatic glacier melting, permafrost thawing and a decrease in depth and duration of snow cover in mountain habitats, as well as longer growing seasons and higher frequency of early and late frost events. Cold-adapted plants and animals have already been responding to climate change with migration, adaptation, or local extinction. Ranges of alpine plant species have shifted towards higher elevations, resulting in a considerable influx of sub-alpine species from lower elevations into alpine communities. Higher competitive pressure and unsuitable climatic conditions are expected to lead to local extinctions of cold-adapted species in the future. Further, tree line advance and shrubification will most likely lead to a substantial loss of alpine habitat area with associated extinction risks of the rich endemic alpine flora restricted to low-elevation marginal mountain ranges. Species that do not migrate fast enough or are already at the highest elevations need to adapt to changing environmental conditions.


The main aim of this project is to conduct a vulnerability assessment to identify indicator alpine plant species and communities that are most likely to be affected by climate change. In practical terms, you will combine long-term monitoring data on alpine plant diversity of a global network GLORIA () with extensive data sources from other projects and databases, to determine a set of plant features (e.g. ecological niche, life-history traits, distribution patterns) that best predict population dynamics and potentially extinction risk in European alpine flora.


A practical part (e.g., vegetation surveys and plant measurements at one of the GLORIA sites in the European Alps and/or experimental work in the lab at the UCPH) could be added upon request. In the case of field work, we can cover a larger part of transportation and accommodation costs.


Students of the ENVEURO - Environmental Science. Soil, Water, Biodiversity program who are co-studying at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) are especially invited.



Contact Sergey Rosbakh for further details:

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