Accelerated increase in plant species richness on mountain summits is linked to warming

Journal article
(Original article)

Publication Details

Author(s): Steinbauer M, Grytnes JA, Jurasinski G, Kulonen A, Lenoir J, Pauli H, Rixen C, Winkler M, Bardy-Durchhalter M, Barni E, Bjorkman A, Breiner FT, Burg S, Czortek P, Dawes M, Delimat A, Dullinger S, Erschbamer B, Felde V, Fernández-Arberas O, Fossheim K, Gómez-García D, Georges D, Grindrud E, Haider S, Haugum S, Henriksen H, Herreros M, Jaroszewicz B, Jaroszynska F, Kanka R, Kapfer J, Klanderud K, Kühn I, Lamprecht A, Matteodo M, Morra di Cella U, Normand S, Odland A, Olsen S, Palacio S, Petey M, Piscová V, Sedlakova B, Steinbauer K, Stöckli V, Svenning JC, Teppa G, Theurillat JP, Vittoz P, Woodin S, Zimmermann N, Wipf S
Journal: Nature
Publication year: 2018
Volume: 556
Journal issue: 7700
Pages range: 231-234
ISSN: 0028-0836
eISSN: 1476-4687


Globally accelerating trends in societal development and human environmental impacts since the mid-twentieth century are known as the Great Acceleration and have been discussed as a key indicator of the onset of the Anthropocene epoch. While reports on ecological responses (for example, changes in species range or local extinctions) to the Great Acceleration are multiplying, it is unknown whether such biotic responses are undergoing a similar acceleration over time. This knowledge gap stems from the limited availability of time series data on biodiversity changes across large temporal and geographical extents. Here we use a dataset of repeated plant surveys from 302 mountain summits across Europe, spanning 145 years of observation, to assess the temporal trajectory of mountain biodiversity changes as a globally coherent imprint of the Anthropocene. We find a continent-wide acceleration in the rate of increase in plant species richness, with five times as much species enrichment between 2007 and 2016 as fifty years ago, between 1957 and 1966. This acceleration is strikingly synchronized with accelerated global warming and is not linked to alternative global change drivers. The accelerating increases in species richness on mountain summits across this broad spatial extent demonstrate that acceleration in climate-induced biotic change is occurring even in remote places on Earth, with potentially far-ranging consequences not only for biodiversity, but also for ecosystem functioning and services.

FAU Authors / FAU Editors

Steinbauer, Manuel Prof. Dr.
Professur für System-Paläobiologie

External institutions
Aarhus University
Copenhagen Business School (CBS)
Eidg. Forschungsanstalt für Wald, Schnee und Landschaft WSL
Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck / University of Innsbruck
Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg (MLU)
Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAS) / Slovenská akadémia vied (SAV)
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien (BOKU( / University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
Universität Rostock
Universität Wien / University of Vienna
Université de Genève (UNIGE) / University of Geneva
Université de Lausanne (UNIL)
University of Aberdeen
University of Bergen
University of Oslo
University of Tromsø
University of Turin / Università degli Studi di Torino (UNITO)
University of Warsaw / Uniwersytet Warszawski

How to cite

Steinbauer, M., Grytnes, J.-A., Jurasinski, G., Kulonen, A., Lenoir, J., Pauli, H.,... Wipf, S. (2018). Accelerated increase in plant species richness on mountain summits is linked to warming. Nature, 556(7700), 231-234.

Steinbauer, Manuel, et al. "Accelerated increase in plant species richness on mountain summits is linked to warming." Nature 556.7700 (2018): 231-234.


Last updated on 2018-10-10 at 15:48