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:4/3/2017)... 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, IsoPlexis ... a statistically significant association between the potency ... and objective response of cancer patients post-treatment. ... whether cancer patients will respond to CAR-T ... as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing and ...
(Date:3/29/2017)... 2017  higi, the health IT company that operates ... America , today announced a Series B investment ... EveryMove. The new investment and acquisition accelerates higi,s strategy ... transform population health activities through the collection and workflow ... higi collects and secures data today on behalf of ...
(Date:3/24/2017)... Mar 24, 2017 Research and Markets has ... Market Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report ... ... at a CAGR of around 15.1% over the next decade to ... report analyzes the market estimates and forecasts for all the given ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... The University of Connecticut, ... funding to three startups through the UConn Innovation Fund. The $1.5 million UConn ... affiliated with UConn. , The UConn Innovation Fund provides investments of up to ...
(Date:4/21/2017)... ... April 21, 2017 , ... ... nourishing a range of emerging technology-based businesses, recently earned a $77,518 grant from ... , Founded in 2004, FITCI is Frederick’s first incubator. A non-profit corporation, ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... April 20, 2017 , ... USDM Life Sciences , the ... and healthcare industries, is pleased to announce Holger Braemer as Vice President ... Europe GmbH” based in Germany. , Braemer is an integral part of USDM’s ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ... April 20, 2017 , ... Energetiq ... applications, announced today that Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Debbie Gustafson has been appointed ... the global industry association connecting the electronics manufacturing supply chain. The mission of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: