Stöckli Veronika

Summit flora

Project Number: CH-4736
Project Type: Research_Project
Project Duration: 01/01/2010 - 12/31/2016 project completed
Funding Source: BAFU , other ,
Leading Institution: WSL
Project Leader: Dr. Veronika Stöckli
Bergwelten 21 AG
Obere Strasse 22B
7270 Davos Dorf
Phone: +41 (0) 81 413 03 50
e-Mail: stoeckli(at)

related to this project.
for which the project has a relevance.

environmental sciences

For centuries, botanists with mountaineering skills have climbed summits in the Alps to explore the frontiers of plant life. They left behind a wealth of data on the flora of more than 250 summits in Switzerland. For monitoring purposes, also 13 summits in the Swiss National Park were botanized by J. Braun-Blanquet. Meanwhile, the climate has warmed considerably, the population sizes of wild and domestic grazers have changed and tourist frequency has increased. In this changing environment, these historical data offer a valuable baseline to investigate how and why vegetation at high altitudes changed over the last century.
In the “Summit Flora Project”, we re-surveyed 120 summits between 2450 and 3420 m altitude in the Southeastern Swiss Alps to compare historical and recent species diversity and composition. We recorded biotic and abiotic variables to test their effect on vegetation development, such as grazer frequency, tourism pressure, or habitat structure. A subset of summits with multiple re-surveys over time, two of them within the borders of the Swiss National Park, allow analyzing the dynamics of diversity change over the past century.
We found an overall pattern of floristic enrichment on alpine summits driven by a general upwards shift in plant species distributions. The rate of species enrichment was not uniform over time but greatly increased since the 1980s/1990s, concurrent with recent climate warming.
Our findings confirm the observed and modelled trend of a strong upwards shift of plant species, but disagree with predictions of high extinction risks of high-alpine species. Only few species have been getting rarer, and we found no trend that high-alpine specialists were particularly prone to local extinctions. Future resurveys will determine whether the modelled decline occurs after a greater time lag or whether small scale heterogeneity in microclimate and microhabitats allow high-alpine specialist species to co-exist with newly arrived species.

Field study 2012 in the Swiss National Park Ten of the 13 summits in the region around the Swiss National Park have been botanized in 2010 and 2011 for our project or for the GLORIA monitoring project. For the sake of assembling a complete dataset of all 13 summits of the publication of J. Braun-Blanquet, we aim at revisiting the remaining three summits within the borders of the NP in 2012.


Last update: 3/20/20
Source of data: ProClim- Research InfoSystem (1993-2020)
Update the data of project: CH-4736

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