Climate changes the distribution of plants and animals

Jan 08, 2014
Plants are moving uphill due to rising temperatures. In figure: Leopard's bane (Doronicum clusii). Credit: Jörg Schmill)

Swiss plants, butterflies and birds have moved 8 to 42 meters uphill between 2003 and 2010, as scientists from the University of Basel write in the online journal Plos One.

Climate warming is changing the distribution of plants and animals worldwide. Recently it was shown that in the past two decades, European bird and butterfly communities have moved on average 37 and 114 kilometers to the north, respectively.

Tobias Roth and Valentin Amrhein from the University of Basel now found that in Switzerland, plant, butterfly and bird species also moved uphill. At an altitude of 500 meters, plants have on average shifted uphill 8 meters, butterflies 38 meters and birds 42 meters. The study was based on data collected between 2003 and 2010 in 214 sample areas up to an altitude of 3000 meters, covering all major ecosystems of Central Europe.

"An average of eight meters difference in altitude in eight years and across all plant species is quite impressive for the often not very mobile plant communities", says Valentin Amrhein. "The results show that the biological impacts of climate change will not only become apparent in the long term. Animals and plants are already today adapting to the rising temperatures at a surprising pace."

Different Trends above the Tree Line

While birds also moved uphill at higher altitudes, plants and butterflies surprisingly showed no significant changes in altitude above the tree line. Contrary to the developments in lower altitudes, and even showed a tendency towards a downhill movement. Explanations for this phenomenon have yet to be found. "It is possible that land-use related changes in habitats near the tree line outweigh the effects of . For example, many alpine pastures have been abandoned in recent years", says Tobias Roth. "It is also possible that alpine are better protected against changing climatic conditions, due to the highly varied surface of alpine landscapes."

In any case, the fact that plant and butterfly communities have changed towards warm-dwelling species at low altitudes but remained relatively stable at higher altitudes cannot be explained with different temperature developments across altitudes. The scientists also studied data on air temperature of 14 meteorological stations: During the 16 years between 1995 and 2010, the summer temperatures in Switzerland rose by about 0.07 °C per year at all altitudes.

Explore further: Bloom or bust as new study reveals the plants most likely to survive climate change

More information: Tobias Roth, Matthias Plattner & Valentin Amrhein, Plants, birds and butterflies: short-term responses of species communities to climate warming vary by taxon and with altitude Plos One, published January 8th, 2014 | DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082490

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Maggnus
3.1 / 5 (7) Jan 08, 2014
During the 16 years between 1995 and 2010, the summer temperatures in Switzerland rose by about 0.07 °C per year at all altitudes.


Hey Ubamoron, how about you dazzle us all and put up the graph you don't understand again?

Hey Scooter, are these biologists in on the conspiracy too?
Returners
1 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2014
Swiss plants, butterflies and birds have moved 8 to 42 meters uphill between 2003 and 2010, as scientists from the University of Basel write in the online journal Plos One.


All this proves is a seven year data set is meaningless in regards to climate, seeing as it takes 30 years to establish a "climate norm" and another 30 years to establish an entirely new climate sample, based on the definition of climate as being the 30 years trends.

In any case, the fact that plant and butterfly communities have changed towards warm-dwelling species at low altitudes but remained relatively stable at higher altitudes cannot be explained with different temperature developments across altitudes.


At least you mentioned the conflicting evidence, unlike most other AGW/GW related studies. Perhaps the changes aren't related to temperature, but just randomness.

It could also be a secondary effect of the temperature change, like modifying humidity or wind, altering pollen dispensation.
Returners
1 / 5 (5) Jan 08, 2014
At any rate, I think it shows the weakness in the understanding of ecosystems, since half the species did the opposite of your expectations, and the other half which did move in the expected direction didn't actually move all that much in the scheme of things.

Eight to forty meters isn't much more than spitting distance.

How did you control for things like genetic variation?

Controlling for abnormal precipitation or lack thereof, abnormal prevailing wind direction, etc, all that stuff goes under "long term average/pattern," which is why climate is a 30 year study, not a 7 year study.

You say the land is in less use now. Maybe the plants and insects simply moved back where they were before the humans moved in. Reduction in pasture usage means reduction in pest insects which plague the animals, as well as change in nutrient type and amount (no manure now,) which I'd agree easily could allow the surrounding ecosystems to return to prior conditions.
Zephir_fan
Jan 08, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Cocoa
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2014
Returners - read again ""An average of eight meters difference in altitude in eight years and across all plant species is quite impressive for the often not very mobile plant communities"

It would seem that the people who have made a profession of studying the ecosystems - disagree with your assessment. " didn't actually move all that much in the scheme of things." Would you care to share with us how many years you have been studying the European ecosystems - papers written, books written, research projects undertaken would be interesting.

It is so interesting to see how common it is becoming for people who are not actually working in these fields - to so glibly dismiss the hard work of those who are. Perhaps this project is just covering 8 years - but it is more data to put into the system. This is how we build our understanding of the world we live in.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2014
What a bunch of hooey.

The Swiss Alps' glaciers have been melting for a long time, and not because of climate change.

http://www.geog.u...ratures/

Obviously where snow retreats, measured surface temperatures will rise, even if it isn't a climate wide phenomena.

And they ADMIT birds moved up hill, and then stupidly wonder why the plants have also ...DUH! What do the birds eat and subsequently poop out, but seeds?

Seriously, these people have the audacity to call this science?

Maggnus
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2014
From Ubamoron's own link:
Only after around 1970, when air quality began to improve, did accelerated climate warming become the dominant driver of Alpine glacier retreat, Kaser says. He says that if glaciers in the region continue to melt at the rate seen during the past 30 years, there is a risk that nearly all of them will vanish before the end of the century.


Really Ubamoron, I would have thought you would have learned by now that you need to read the whole article before making erroneous comments or you just end up looking moronic.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2014
Trees and animals moved into Canada after the glaciers melted.
What's new?
At what altitude was the Ice Man found?
He was preserved in ice for thousands of years meaning that the climate when he died must have been similar to when he was found.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Jan 09, 2014
Is this supposed to be evidence of warming or a revelation???

Of COURSE climate changes the distribution of plants and animals...did we really need a study to tell us that?
Cocoa
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2014
Modernmystic: "Of COURSE climate changes the distribution of plants and animals...did we really need a study to tell us that?"

It's a study - this is what scientists do. Why are there so many people on a science site - who do not understand what science is? In high school biology class - we took square meter metal frames into a field, placed them on the ground - and identified all the different life forms we could find in that square meter. We were taught - that this is what scientists do. They study the world that we live in - so that we can document it, and understand it.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2014
Cocoa, and when a 'study' can find some way to bring up 'climate change', that 'study' will get top billing.
Cocoa
4 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2014
OH wow - so we should just ignore climate change. Don't study the climate - or anything that might relate to the climate - Rygg will disapprove of your motives. Sorry biologists - you can't study the insects, or the birds, or the plants, or the fungi, or the bacteria, or the moss, or the lichen, and definitely not the weather - because you have to set your agenda based on scientific neanderthals like Rygg.
Maggnus
4.2 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2014
because you have to set your agenda based on scientific neanderthals like Rygg.
Good thing Rygg lives in his mother's basement and spends all his time railing against all the socialists he sees everywhere. He's an idiot, but he's a harmless idiot.
Modernmystic
3.5 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
I agree with AGW, no convincing is needed here. I just think it's beneath human intelligence to do a STUDY to tell us that climate changes the distribution of flora and fauna...it isn't science it's just plain STUPID. If it offends you that I call something blatantly stupid that is blatantly stupid then don't read my posts, because I'm going to continue to do it :)

Now if you need more evidence to convince the deniers I suggest a more relevant use of resources...both monetary and intellectual...
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Jan 10, 2014
we should just ignore climate change


This what AGWites are effectively doing by continuing to ONLY promote socialist programs to 'save the planet'.
Humans, flora and fauna have NOT ignored changing climates for millions of years as they adapted to that change.
AGWites seem to believe that there is some Goldilocks 'just right' climate that they should coerce govts to plunder resources to maintain.
Maggnus
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
MM, I think you misinterpret the paper. You seem to think the researchers went out to specifically study habitat movement. They didn't, but during the course of their studies they discovered that habitat movement was occurring, and went about trying to determine why.

You have made similar assumptions on others studies as well. Its a mistake to think that they set out to find evidence for global warming; they didn't. They set out to study fauna in Switzerland and during that study they discovered that species ranges were moving upwards as compared to historical records. Seeing that, they set about determining why that was happening.

Global warming is now established science MM. They are not trying to do a study to prove it's happening, their study just happened to identify something that was happening because of it.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
Maggnus,

If indeed they were studying something else (whatever that was I didn't see it mentioned in the article) and "happened across" this information then I don't have a problem with them pointing out the obvious. I have a problem with anyone who wastes resources intentionally to point out the obvious...
Maggnus
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
ANd that's exactly the point MM. There are very few studies being done now to provide even more redundant proof of global warming. Those that are being done are very pointed and goal specific.

Again, it is a mistake to think researchers are trying to prove something that is already accepted science. When you are studying starling mortality in England and during the course of your study you discover that their range is changing because of global warming, it most assuredly does not mean you set out to prove global warming.

Understand the difference?
Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2014
MM: "it isn't science it's just plain STUPID. If it offends you that I call something blatantly stupid that is blatantly stupid then don't read my posts, because I'm going to continue to do it"

I believe you that you will continue to make a fool of yourself on a science forum - go right ahead. I will continue to add my two cents worth - I think that is how the comments section works.
Maggnus
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2014
@ Cocoa: Actually MM isn't that bad. Try dealing with Rygg. Oh wait, I see you have! LOL!
Cocoa
3.3 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2014
Maybe Maggnus - but just as MM wants to exercise the right to call scientists STUPID - for doing research, I want to exercise my right for pointing out how scientifically illiterate that makes MM.

The point is that for me - science is about smart, curious people - learning stuff. "Oh look - that is interesting - let's see how it works." Somehow - built into our culture - is the other side of things - the need to call others STUPID - for being curious.

So there is a drag on our forward movement as a species. We are learning to cure cancer - and all the other diseases that plague us - but our progress is glacially slow - because half of us are blowing the planet up in the name of some religion or other, and the other half are calling scientists STUPID - for wanting to know how shit works. The knuckle draggers will eventually die out - just doing my part to hurry them along.
Modernmystic
3 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2014
Maybe Maggnus - but just as MM wants to exercise the right to call scientists STUPID - for doing research, I want to exercise my right for pointing out how scientifically illiterate that makes MM.

Stupid was probably the wrong word to use...redundant...parasitic...irrelevant. Those all might be better. I'm all for research...even blue sky research to a point.

Let me put it this way, would YOU be in favor of doing research for the simple sake of doing it? Even if it tells us what we already know...like awarding a mathematician a grant to PROVE that 1+1=2? No? Because if not then there is no fundamental difference between you and I on this issue...only matters of degree.
Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2014
MM - have you ever taken a research class? One of the things that is drilled into you in a science research class - is the importance of documenting your experiment in extreme detail. The reason for this is to enable others to understand your work, and to duplicate it. Why would we duplicate work that has already been done? To see if there is a flaw in the research - or if it stands up to duplication. The need for this is clear when you look at a situation like that of Pons/Fleishman. They did not document their work carefully enough, and no one was able to replicate their "results". Each study adds another piece to this jigsaw puzzle of a universe we live in. Yes there is redundancy - but it is all part of the process. There is a lot of waste. My psychology adviser did her thesis on "sub lexical vocalizations in the comprehension of text by speed readers." But just another piece of the puzzle - right?
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2014
From Uba's own link:
Only after around 1970, when air quality began to improve, did accelerated climate warming become the dominant driver of Alpine glacier retreat, Kaser says. He says that if glaciers in the region continue to melt at the rate seen during the past 30 years, there is a risk that nearly all of them will vanish before the end of the century.


Really Uba, I would have thought you would have learned by now that you need to read the whole article before making erroneous comments or you just end up looking moronic.
You mean like you?

They have to put something in there about global warming, or they won't get published.

But maybe you haven't heard, alpine glaciers are growing:

http://www.thegwp...growing/

Cocoa
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2014
Now this is a science board right?

So here is the quote from the above comment

"But maybe you haven't heard, alpine glaciers are growing:"

And here is the headline from the referenced article

"For the Swiss Alps 2013 was a good summer. Not since ten years ago have the glaciers lost as little mass as this year. And some seem to be gaining a little weight."

Now here is a simple explanation of the difference between mass and weight

http://www.colora...ass.html

Essentially - as long as you stay on the earth - mass and weight are going to correspond. So how can you lose mass - and gain weight?

"seem to be gaining a little weight" is also an interesting statement. Not too scientific right? 'We did not take any measurements - just eye balled the glaciers - and they seem to be gaining some weight - really they do - at the same time as they were losing mass - it was a most interesting occurrence!'
ryggesogn2
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 12, 2014
Now this is a science board right?

No, it's not.
mass and weight are going to correspond.

weight = mass x gravity.
Gravity is not strictly constant over the earth.
The headline conflating mass and weight is poorly written. Mass should have been used instead of 'weight'. Headlines at phys.org are often poorly written, too.
Weight is not used in the original:
"Die Gletscher haben so wenig Masse verloren, wie seit zehn Jahren nicht mehr."
http://www.schwei...ll/3241/
Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2014
"Not, it's not"

When you are totally scientifically illiterate - and view everything through a paranoid political lens - that is what you think. Others disagree - http://en.wikiped...Phys.org

"The headline conflating mass and weight is poorly written."

Kind of my point right - oh sorry - I forgot about the scientifically illiterate part.

ubavontuba
1 / 5 (4) Jan 12, 2014
The headline conflating mass and weight is poorly written.
Kind of my point right - oh sorry - I forgot about the scientifically illiterate part.
It seems you're the illiterate one here. Did you not get this was a translation from the original German, and "weight" was a choice of the translator?

Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2014
It seems you're the illiterate one here. Did you not get this was a translation from the original German, and "weight" was a choice of the translator?

Yes I got that. And so genius - what is the correct translation from the original German - make sense of that for us. And then tell us how you square this article with your statement -

"But maybe you haven't heard, alpine glaciers are growing:"
Maggnus
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2014
Hahaha another instance of Ubamoron linking to an article where he only read the headline, and therefore manages to get it completely wrong.

So hey genius, given the link you provided says the bulk of Alpine glaciers are losing less mass this year than they were losing ten years ago, meaning they are still losing mass albeit at a slower rate this one year, I guess you've actually come to realize that warming is happening, is accelerating, and is the result of human activities! Its about time, I was beginning to think you were terminally moronic and beyond hope of redemption.

Now that you have opened your eyes and mind to the truth, you should read the latest IPCC report. If the high ends of their many predictions come to pass, there could be some real change happening for our grandkids.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2014
It seems you're the illiterate one here. Did you not get this was a translation from the original German, and "weight" was a choice of the translator?

Yes I got that. And so genius - what is the correct translation from the original German - make sense of that for us. And then tell us how you square this article with your statement -
Why, so you can criticize my translation, as well?

All that matters here is your complaint concerning the use of the word "weight" is irrelevant.

ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2014
Hahaha another instance of Uba linking to an article where he only read the headline, and therefore manages to get it completely wrong.

So hey genius, given the link you provided says the bulk of Alpine glaciers are losing less mass this year than they were losing ten years ago, meaning they are still losing mass albeit at a slower rate this one year, I guess you've actually come to realize that warming is happening, is accelerating, and is the result of human activities! Its about time, I was beginning to think you were terminally moronic and beyond hope of redemption.

Now that you have opened your eyes and mind to the truth, you should read the latest IPCC report. If the high ends of their many predictions come to pass, there could be some real change happening for our grandkids.
BAHAHAHA! And again, Maggnusmoron gets it wrong. Try reading it in the original German. They're claiming it looks like an over all mass gain.

Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2014
UBA "All that matters here is your complaint concerning the use of the word "weight" is irrelevant."

That is an opinion. For me - what matters is that YOU linked to an article - that clearly supports the premise that the glaciers are retreating. This article stipulates that fact over and over. Then there is a small piece of the article - that says that some glaciers show a possibility of adding some weight - but there is no measurements to that piece - and a caveat - that this is just a one year observation - and so needs multiple years to see if it actually a trend - or an anomaly.

Again - the article clearly supports the premise that glaciers are retreating - and you reference that article with this - "But maybe you haven't heard, alpine glaciers are growing:"

cont.
Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2014
Some quotes from Uba's article.

"In recent summers, the glaciers in Switzerland lost a meter in thickness on average"

"Particularly disastrous were the years 2011, 2006 and 2003, in which the loss was two to three meters for some glaciers"

"About 30 ascents to huts have been affected by glacier retreat"

"In general the glaciers have lost less mass than in any of the last ten years,"

"There have always been years in which individual glaciers developed positively"

" Over the last hundred years, the annual mean temperature in most areas of the Alps has warmed by about one degree"

" "The reactions of large glaciers are delayed by up to 50 years," says Bauder. And in Switzerland the last 20 years were the warmest since measurements began."

And Uba's conclusion " "But maybe you haven't heard, alpine glaciers are growing:"

ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2014
That is an opinion. For me - what matters is that YOU linked to an article - that clearly supports the premise that the glaciers are retreating. This article stipulates that fact over and over. Then there is a small piece of the article - that says that some glaciers show a possibility of adding some weight - but there is no measurements to that piece - and a caveat - that this is just a one year observation - and so needs multiple years to see if it actually a trend - or an anomaly.
Duh! Didn't you bother to read my first post wherein I show these galciers have been receding since the middle of the 19th century?

http://www.geog.u...ratures/

Seriously, stop being so eager to personally attack me, and try learning a thing or two.

Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2014
UBA: "Duh! Didn't you bother to read my first post wherein I show these galciers have been receding since the middle of the 19th century?"

Yes I did - let me give a quote from that article

" Only after around 1970, when air quality began to improve, did accelerated climate warming become the dominant driver of Alpine glacier retreat"

Now please stop squirming - and whining about personal attacks - and answer one question. How can either of these articles support your claim - ""But maybe you haven't heard, alpine glaciers are growing:"

You are clearly a cherry picking denier - and I have no problem in pointing out that reality - sorry if it bothers you - feel free to ignore me.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2014
UBA: "Duh! Didn't you bother to read my first post wherein I show these galciers have been receding since the middle of the 19th century?"

Yes I did - let me give a quote from that article

" Only after around 1970, when air quality began to improve, did accelerated climate warming become the dominant driver of Alpine glacier retreat"
BAHAHAH! These people know nothing of emissions controls history and air quality improvement. Even in the U.S. (then the leader in emissions controls), significant improvements didn't occur until the 1980's. and beyond.

http://www.epa.go...nds.html

How can either of these articles support your claim - ""But maybe you haven't heard, alpine glaciers are growing:"
Because that's what the second article claims.

feel free to ignore me.
Okay.

Cocoa
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2014
UBA "BAHAHAH! These people know nothing of emissions controls history and air quality improvement."

But that was the article that YOU referenced. So YOU referenced an article - I tried to point out that the article that YOU referenced contradicts YOUR stupid claim that the glaciers are growing - and in response - YOU make fun of the article.

"Because that's what the second article claims."

No it is not. Just look back 4 comments and you will see all the quotes taken directly from the article - stipulating exactly the OPPOSITE.

You whine about personal insults - and then paint a big fat bullseye on your own stupid forehead.... Sheesh....
Maggnus
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2014
Yes Cocoa I understand the frustration you're feeling. Get ready, because as soon as there is another article about mass loss in glaciers, Uba will restate the EXACT same arguments he used here, getting them just as wrong, as if everything said here never happened. I can think of no better example of moronic.

ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2014
But that was the article that YOU referenced. So YOU referenced an article - I tried to point out that the article that YOU referenced contradicts YOUR stupid claim that the glaciers are growing - and in response - YOU make fun of the article.
No, I make fun of the Warmist agenda which insists that all climate related articles (and many not) must include a Warmist caveat, even when it's completely unfounded.

No it is not. Just look back 4 comments and you will see all the quotes taken directly from the article - stipulating exactly the OPPOSITE.
How is it my fault your comprehension skills fail to the point of not even understanding the title?

"The First Alpine Glaciers Are Growing Again"

You whine about personal insults - and then paint a big fat bullseye on your own stupid forehead.... Sheesh....
And there we go with the personal insults... Is that all you got?

Maggnus
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2014
No, I make fun of the Warmist agenda which insists that all climate related articles (and many not) must include a Warmist caveat, even when it's completely unfounded.
More of Ubanmoron's take on the Conspiracy. Moronic of course, but also an insight into the degree of denialism he has.
How is it my fault your comprehension skills fail to the point of not even understanding the title?
Yep, typical, he reads the title and thinks he knows what the article is talking about. That he is wrong doesn't seem to penetrate into his moronically delusional view of the world.
And there we go with the personal insults... Is that all you got?
And yet STILL more science than you can muster!
Cocoa
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2014
UBA - "How is it my fault your comprehension skills fail to the point of not even understanding the title?"

I understood the title - and I also read the article - so that I could make an informed opinion of the subject at hand. As I pointed out in my post above - with extensive support - the article actually states exactly the opposite of your assertion. Put simply - alpine glaciers continue to retreat.

I understand that it is easier to just read the title - and to then pretend that you are knowledgeable on the subject - hey if you want to paint a big fat bullseye on your own stupid forehead - like I said before - feel free to ignore me. You said you were going to - I guess that went the way of everything else you say - into the vortex of ignorance.