How threatened are alpine environments? a cross taxonomic study
- 295 Downloads
Cold-adapted ecosystems are often considered to be stable, species poor, and well protected. However, such ecosystems have been identified as being especially sensitive to threats from global warming. Despite this, recent studies have found low proportions of Red Listed species in these systems. In this study we explored the number of alpine species (dependent on alpine habitats for their survival) and their Red List status in Sweden. We determined the proportion of Red Listed species and explored discrepancies among different groups of organisms in terms of the proportion of Red Listed species and the criteria used for Red Listing. We found a total of 389 alpine species in twelve analyzed species groups. The overall proportion of Red Listed species was 29%, with 15% regarded as threatened. There were substantial differences among taxonomic groups with respect to the proportion of Red Listed species. Among mammals 75% of the species are Red Listed, along with 63% of butterflies and 50% of birds. In addition the single alpine dragonfly species and all three alpine stinging wasp species are also Red Listed. Although beetles, bumblebees and grasshoppers are represented by a total of 17 alpine species, none are Red Listed. In contrast to previous studies, our results show that the proportion of Red Listed species is high in alpine environments, indicating that ecosystems found above the tree line are indeed threatened. No species in Sweden have been Red Listed on the basis of the IUCN criterion E (unfavorable quantitative analysis), this is surprising since entire cold-adapted ecosystems are likely to disappear in the future. We highlight the need for a better and more coordinated application of the IUCN criteria, as well as a more stringent strategy to assess the extinction risks for alpine species, thus maintaining reliable Red Lists.
KeywordsBiodiversity Climate change High altitude Red List Threatened species
We thank the following persons for help with identifying alpine species within different organism groups: B. Andersson, M. Aronsson, B.-Å. Bengtsson, R. Franzén, B. Gullefors, A. Knöppel, L. A. Nilsson, B. Cederberg, T. Hallingbäck, N. Cronberg, E. Öckinger and M. Olofsson. T. Ranius, S. Nakasian and M. Kutzer gave valuable comments on earlier manuscripts. This study supported by FORMAS, Stiftelsen Olle Engkvist Byggmästare and from the European Commission Framework Programme (FP) 7 via the STEP (grant 244090).
- Anonymous (2008) Land use in Sweden, 5 edn. SCB, Statistics Sweden, StockholmGoogle Scholar
- Eide W, Aronsson M (2010) The Swedish mountains. In: Gärdenfors U (ed) The 2010 Red List of Swedish species. The Swedish Species Information Centre, SLU, Uppsala, pp 106–112Google Scholar
- Gärdenfors U (ed) (2010b) The 2010 Red List of Swedish species. The Swedish Species Information Centre, SLU, UppsalaGoogle Scholar
- IUCN (2003) Guidelines for application of IUCN Red list criteria at regional levels: version 3.0. Species survival commission, IUCN, Gland. Switzerland and Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
- IUCN (2010) IUCN Standards and Petitions Working Group. Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. Version 8.1. Prepared by the Standards and Petitions Subcommittee in March 2010, IUCN, Gland. Switzerland and Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
- Kålås JA, Viken Å, Henriksen S, Skjelseth S (eds) (2010) The 2010 Norwegian Red List for Species. Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, TrondheimGoogle Scholar
- Lindström Å, Green M, Ottvall R, Svensson S (2008) Övervakning av fåglarnas populationsutveckling. Årsrapport för 2007. Department of Animal Ecology, Lund University, LundGoogle Scholar
- Post E, Forchhammer MC, Bret-Harte MS, Callaghan TV, Christensen TR, Elberling B, Fox AD, Gilg O, Hik DS, Hoye TT, Ims RA, Jeppesen E, Klein DR, Madsen J, McGuire AD, Rysgaard S, Schindler DE, Stirling I, Tamstorf MP, Tyler Nicholas JC, van der Wal R, Welker J, Wookey PA, Schmidt NM, Aastrup P (2009) Ecological dynamics across the arctic associated with recent climate change. Science 325:1355–1358PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rassi P, Hyvärinen E, Juslén A, Mannerkoski I (2010) The 2010 Red List of Finnish species. Edita Prima Oy, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
- Walther-Hellwig K, Frankl R (2000) Foraging habitats and foraging distances of bumblebees, Bombus spp. (Hym., Apidae), in an agricultural landscape. J Appl Entomol-Zeitschrift fur Angewandte Entomologie 124:299–306Google Scholar