Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Moving up and over: redistribution of plants in alpine, Arctic, and Antarctic ecosystems under global change.

Abstract

Extreme abiotic conditions, geographic isolation, and low levels of disturbance have historically provided alpine, Arctic, and Antarctic regions with low input of and relative resistance to the introduction of new species. However, the climate is warming rapidly, concomitant with intense and diversified types of human influence in these cold environments. Consequently, many plant species, both native and nonnative, are now moving or expanding their ranges to higher elevations and latitudes, creating new species interactions and assemblages that challenge biodiversity conservation. Based on our synthesis, many of the same nonnative species invade multiple cold environments, and many more could move up or over from adjoining warmer areas. Transportation networks and the disturbances associated with burgeoning development are responsible for many movements. Prevention and monitoring for nonnative plant species is of paramount importance, and management should be directed toward species that negatively impact ecosystem function or human well-being. Management of native range shifters is more complicated; most movements will be desirable, but some may be locally undesirable. Overall, plant movements into alpine, arctic, and Antarctic areas are going to increase, and management will need to be adaptive because species movements and assemblages of the past will not reflect those of the future.