Trees, grass, heat
An analysis of forest species in six French mountain ranges (the western Alps, northern Pyrenees, Massif Central, western Jura, Vosges and the Corsican range) shows that more than two thirds of them moved at least 60 feet (18.5 meters) higher on the mountainsides per decade during the 20th century.
"Among 171 species, most are shifting upwards to recover temperature conditions that are optimum," says ecologist and lead study author Jonathan Lenoir of AgroParisTech in Nancy, France. "Climate change has already imposed a significant effect in a wide range of plant species not restricted to sensitive ecosystems."
Species are not just moving at the extremes of their ranges," says ecologist and co-author Pablo Marquet of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago. "What we show is that they are moving everywhere."
Interesting. Maybe soon, we'll get feral hogs in what used to be Zone 5?
The researchers found that grasses, herbs and other short-lived species that had been through many generations shifted the most in search of perfect temperatures, whereas long-lived trees stayed largely in place. According to the authors, this is changing the composition of the forest—mixing formerly low-altitude grasses with high-altitude trees—which could potentially affect the entire ecosystem, particularly the animals that rely on specific plants to survive.
Fascinating stuff. Readers, seeing anything like this?