The Impact of Climate Change on Recent Vegetation Changes on Dovrefjell, Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionDiversity. 2011, 3 91-111. 10.3390/d3010091
The ongoing climate warming has been reported to affect a broad range of organisms, and mountain ecosystems are considered to be particularly sensitive because they are limited by low temperatures. Meteorological data show an increased temperature for the alpine areas at Dovrefjell, Norway, causing a prolonged growing season and increased temperature sum. As part of the worldwide project Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA), the short-term changes in vascular plant species richness, species composition of lichen and vascular plant communities, and abundance of single species were studied at four summits representing an altitudinal gradient from the low alpine to the high alpine zone. During the period from 2001 to 2008, an increase in species richness at the lowest summit, as well as a change in the composition of vascular plant communities, was found at the two lowest summits. The results also indicate an increase in abundance of some shrubs and graminoids and a decline in the cover of some species of lichens at the lowest summit. These changes are in accordance with climate induced changes reported in other studies, but other causes for the observed vegetation changes, in particular changes in grazing and trampling pressure, cannot be ruled out.