Predicting the response of alpine communities to global changes


Mountains are a highly heterogeneous, dynamic, yet increasingly vulnerable terrestrial environment undergoing rapid changes. Mountain regions have warmed considerably over the last century, and future temperature increases are expected at high altitudes, making alpine species particularly suitable for tracing climate-change impacts.

The project Alp-Change will be conducted in Retezat National Park and will assess and predict shifts in the distributional range size and changes in the structure of alpine populations and communities caused by direct effects of human activities (i.e. fish stocking of alpine lakes, tourism and grazing) and indirect effects of environmental stressors (i.e. climate change).

The specific objectives of Alp-Change are to integrate available historical biodiversity occurrence data and human impacts in a georeferenced database, document human-induced altitudinal range shifts and changes in life history traits of selected species and taxa, evaluate changes in the taxonomic and functional components of alpine biodiversity over time, assess the spread and impact of alien species, develop predictive species distribution models incorporating climate variables and life history parameters, and, identify the most appropriate indicators for a long-term monitoring program.

The practical outputs of the project will be the proposal of a long-term monitoring program and a set of measures to mitigate threats to alpine biodiversity.