Plant diversity along altitudinal gradients in the Central Alps (South Tyrol, Italy) and in the Central Greater Caucasus (Kazbegi region, Georgia)

Erschbamer, Brigitta and Mallaun, Martin and Unterluggauer, Peter and Abdaladze, Otar and Akhalkatsi, Maia and Nakhutsrishvili, George (2010) Plant diversity along altitudinal gradients in the Central Alps (South Tyrol, Italy) and in the Central Greater Caucasus (Kazbegi region, Georgia). Tuexenia, 30 (1). pp. 11-29. ISSN 0722-494X.

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Plant species diversity and species ranges were investigated in two siliceous mountain regions: the Central Alps (Nature Park Texelgruppe, South Tyrol, Italy) and Central Greater Caucasus (Cross Pass area, Kazbegi region, Georgia). Altitudinal gradients from the treeline ecotone to the upper alpine/subnival and nival zone, respectively, are compared. The research was carried out within the projects GLORIA-Europe (Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments) and GLORIA worldwide. The idea of the GLORIA projects is to describe the actual diversity (= task of the first recording), and to observe diversity changes and migrations of low-altitude species to higher altitudes (= task of the monitoring every 5–10 years). The objective of this paper is to analyse (1) altitudinal gradients from the treeline to the nival zone in the Central Caucasus and in the Central Alps, (2) floristic similarities between the two mountain regions, (3) signs of migrating montane species to higher altitudes in both regions. In each mountain region four summits were selected and 3 x 3 m square clusters were established at the 5 m contour line below the highest summit point in each of the four main compass directions. In the four corner plots (4 x 1 m²) of the square cluster plots frequency analyses were performed and vegetation cover was estimated. Additionally, species sampling was made from the highest summit point down to the 10 m contour line of each summit. The species were classified according to their distribution (endemic vs. non-endemic species) and their altitudinal range (colline-montane-treeline-alpine-subnival-nival species). The total species number of the GLORIA summits in the Central Caucasus was 116, in the Central Alps 140. Differences between the two mountain regions were detected regarding species diversity per summit, number of endemic species and altitudinal ranges of the species. In the Central Alps, a high number of montane species was present at the treeline ecotone in contrast to the Central Caucasus, where species of lower altitudes did hardly occur at the investigated summits.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q Science > Ecology
Q Science > QK Botany
Depositing User: Prof.Dr. Maia Akhalkatsi
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2014 17:26
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2015 11:55

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