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Mountain ranges may act as "safe haven" for species facing climate change
Date:11/9/2010

heir known temperature preferences," explained Krner. "This means that rugged alpine terrain offers refuge habitats - or at least stepping stones to these - at short distance, for both small plants and animals that prefer cool life conditions."

The authors simulated the frequency of certain temperatures for a 2 degrees warmer climate with a computer, and found that only 3% of all types of temperature conditions will disappear. So, while the extent of some of the cooler habitats will shrink, importantly, they will not be lost altogether.

The authors found that warm habitats become more frequent, and new, warmer habitats will become established, so habitat diversity will in fact increase. The study also illustrates that weather station data is not a suitable basis for projecting future life conditions of organisms in such high elevation terrain.

"We suggest that alpine terrain is, for the majority of species a much 'safer' place to live under conditions of climate warming, compared to flat terrain, which offers no short-distance escapes from the changing temperatures," said Scherrer.

"It is known from earlier geological periods that mountains were always important for survival of species during periods of climatic change such as in glacial cycles, because of their 'habitat diversity,'" concluded Krner. "Mountains are therefore particularly important areas for the conservation of biodiversity in a given region under climatic change and thus deserve particular protection."


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Contact: Ben Norman
Lifesciencenews@wiley.com
44-012-437-70375
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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