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Functional ecology of alpine meadows

 

The Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) has been documenting the modifications in alpine meadows to quickly changing environmental conditions for a century. Complementing vegetation surveys repeated at regular intervals, this project investigates the functional responses to environmental drivers in alpine plant species, with a view to mechanistic understanding of observed changes. Therefore, morpho-anatomical traits in above- and belowground plant organs of selected forb and grass species are analyzed at field sites with either northern or southern aspects, along an elevation gradient below the GLORIA summits. In addition, vegetation surveys are performed and the soil properties characterized. These investigations, to be completed at all three Swiss GLORIA target regions, should shed light on functional aspects of variation in species composition along the analyzed gradients, in the context of adaptation of alpine meadows to ongoing climate change.