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:3/29/2016)... March 29, 2016 LegacyXChange, Inc. ... "LEGX" and SelectaDNA/CSI Protect are pleased to announce our ... in a variety of writing instruments, ensuring athletes signatures ... created collectibles from athletes on LegacyXChange will be assured ... the DNA. Bill Bollander , CEO ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... , PROVO and ... Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates the highest sample ... molecular testing, and Tute Genomics and UNIConnect, leaders in ... respectively, today announced the launch of a project to ... (NGS) testing panel. NSO has been ...
(Date:3/17/2016)... 2016 ABI Research, the leader in ... biometrics market will reach more than $30 billion ... 2015. Consumer electronics, particularly smartphones, continue to boost ... to reach two billion shipments by 2021 at ... , Research Analyst at ABI Research. "Surveillance is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Next week on May 5 at 2:55 ... for tissue stem cell counting and expansion to gene-editing scientists and other attendees ... Genome Engineering in Burlington, Massachusetts. , The attention of most gene-editing scientists appears ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... cannabis testing technology at the Spring 2016 Marijuana Business Conference and Expo. Shimadzu’s ... residual solvents, heavy metals, and more. Expo attendees can stop by booth 1021 ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... and RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. ... UTHR ) announced today that Martine ... United Therapeutics will provide an overview and update on ... Annual Health Care Conference. The presentation ... 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and can be accessed via ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... for simultaneous preclinical PET (Positron Emission Tomography) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) in ... understanding disease and testing novel treatments in small animal subjects. Simultaneous PET/MRI imaging ...
Breaking Biology Technology: