Navigation Links
Climbers leave rare plants' genetic variation on the rocks
Date:5/3/2011

Rock climbers are having a negative impact on rare cliff-dwelling plants, ecologists have found. Writing in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied Ecology they say that in areas popular with climbers, conservation management plans should be drawn up so that some cliffs are protected from climbers.

The Northern Franconian Jura and the Swabian Alb are two of Germany's most important climbing areas but also the last European stronghold of the rare yellow whitlowgrass (Draba azoides) a small plant that lives on limestone cliffs where it forms cushion-like rosettes.

To find out how climbing in the area was affecting the plant, Frank Vogler and Christoph Reisch of the University of Regensburg compared the number and distribution of D. azoides on eight cliffs that had been climbed for at least the past 50 years with eight pristine, unclimbed cliffs of similar size and aspect. They also tested the plants' DNA to find out how climbers affected its genetic variation.

They found that on climbed cliffs, the plants were smaller and fewer in number on cliff faces but more frequent on the scree the broken rock fragments at the base of the cliffs.

According to Dr Reisch: "Climbing adversely affects these plants in a direct way. Abrasion by climbing ropes and using cracks and ledges as hand and footholds obviously lead to a decline in the species' abundance."

Genetic fingerprinting showed that compared with climbed cliffs, there were greater genetic differences between plants living at different heights on the pristine cliffs, meaning that by displacing plants the climbers are also moving their genes down the cliff. These genetic changes could, in the long-term, affect the plants' fitness to survive in an environment it has spent thousands of years adapting to.

"Seed dispersal is presumably enhanced by rock climbers. But climbers also remove and drop individual plants from cliff faces, causing a downward shift in population structure. This shift reduces the genetic differences between the plant populations living at different heights on the cliff," says Dr Reisch.

Because of their inaccessibility, cliffs are among the few ecosystems to be relatively unaffected by humans over the last centuries. Cliffs harbour a multitude of rare and endangered plant species and make a major contribution to regional biodiversity, so more effort needs to be made to conserve them.

"In mountain regions popular with climbers, conservation management plans should always ensure that some cliffs are out-of-bounds to climbers so that the native vegetation is protected," he concludes.


'/>"/>

Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
44-122-357-0016
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Drought-exposed leaves adversely affect soil nutrients, study shows
2. Its good to have a shady side: sun and shade leaves play different roles in tree canopies
3. The lifeblood of leaves: Vein networks control plant patterns
4. Beverages leave geographic signatures that can track peoples movements
5. Love ballad leaves women more open to a date
6. Teenagers want to finish their studies and leave home
7. Dinosaur-chewing mammals leave behind oldest known tooth marks
8. Can the morphology of fossil leaves tell us how early flowering plants grew?
9. When molecules leave tire tracks
10. Seeing the forest through the trees and seeing the trees through the leaves
11. Intensive land management leaves Europe without carbon sinks
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/9/2016)... attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint attendance control software, ... employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening of doors. ... ... ... Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160609/377487 ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit ... includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution ... will result in greater convenience for SACU members ... maintaining existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... , June 2, 2016 The ... has awarded the 44 million US Dollar project, for ... Embossed Vehicle Plates including Personalization, Enrolment, and IT Infrastructure ... leader in the production and implementation of Identity Management Solutions. ... January, however Decatur was selected for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Mosio, a ... eBook, “Clinical Trials Patient Recruitment and Retention Tips.” Partnering with experienced clinical research ... by providing practical tips, tools, and strategies for clinical researchers. , “The landscape ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Houston ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association to serve as ... the agreement, Houston Methodist Willowbrook will provide sponsorship ... and connectivity with association coaches, volunteers, athletes and ... with the Cy-Fair Sports Association and to bring ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... the launch of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., ... the future of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Andrew D Zelenetz , ... Published recently in Oncology & ... Andrew D Zelenetz , discusses the fact ... placing an increasing burden on healthcare systems worldwide, ... the patents on many biologics expiring, interest in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: