Sensitive Alpine Plant Communities to the Global Environmental Changes (Kazbegi Region, the Central Great Caucasus)
American Journal of Environmental Protection
Volume 4, Issue 3-1, May 2015, Pages: 93-100
Received: Mar. 25, 2015;
Accepted: Mar. 26, 2015;
Published: Jun. 25, 2015
Views 2576 Downloads 62
Otar Abdaladze, Alpine Ecosystems Research Program, Institute of Ecology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
Gia Nakhutsrishvili, Department of Plant Systematic, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
Ketevan Batsatsashvili, Alpine Ecosystems Research Program, Institute of Ecology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
Khatuna Gigauri, Alpine Ecosystems Research Program, Institute of Ecology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
Tamar Jolokhava, Alpine Ecosystems Research Program, Institute of Ecology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
George Mikeladze, Department of Plant Systematic, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia
Sensitive plant communities are complexes of species particularly susceptible to global environmental changes (climate, land use, etc.). In the temperate zone alpine areas are considered as the most important “hot spots” in this respect. In the Central Great Caucasus, which is the traditional alpine vegetation monitoring site in the Caucasus, on the basis of 50-years long (1964-2014) phytosociological and ecological studies the most sensitive plant communities were distinguished: 1) Treeline ecotone communities, including: (a) Evergreen prostrate shrubbery dominated by Rhododendron caucasicum, (b) Dwarf semi-shrubbery dominated by Dryas caucasica and (c)Thermo-hygrophilous subalpine tall herbaceous vegetation dominated by Heracleum sosnowskyi; 2) Subalpine broad-leaved mesophilous meadows dominated by Anemonastrum fasciculatum, Geranium ruprechtii, Betonica macrantha and Trollius ranunculinus; 3) Alpine carpet-like meadows (“Alpine carpets”) consist of Campanula biebersteiniana, Veronica gentianoides, Taraxacum porphyrantum, Sibbaldia semiglabra, etc.; 4) Snow-bed vegetation (Galanthus platyphyllus, Fritillaria latifolia, etc.), and 5) Subnival/nival vegetation patches formed by 2-5(7) species (Cerastium kasbek, Alopecurus dasyanthus, Tripleurospermum subnivale, Saxifraga sibirica, S. flagellaris, Delphinium caucasicum, Nepeta supina, Pseudovesicaria digitata, Symphyoloma graveolens, etc.). Totally habitats of these plant communities cover about 1/3 of Kazbegi region area. Temperature rise, decrease in precipitation will lead to abrupt decrease of already small areas covered by Tertiary’s relict tall herbaceous vegetation; elimination of a number of highly sensitive plant species including: relic, rare, endemic and critically endangered; disappearance of alpine snow-bed species. On account of early snow thawing or belated snowfall in autumn chionophyte plants (elfin, prostrate and dwarf shrubs and forbs in the alpine zone) sensitive to low moisture content, few and short-term snow cover and high temperature will lose. Probably sharp changes should be expected in subnival/nival zones, first of all, related to abrupt decrease in the glacier areas and subsequent increase in the distribution range of many species. According to the scenario suggested for the South Caucasus, which is based on predicted 3.9°C rise of temperature and decrease of precipitation by 9-13% during the century, it is expected that further climate warming may significantly change the vegetation and consequently the landscapes in the region. The vegetation may become similar to that of dry gorges of the Rocky Ridge of the Great Caucasus, which are situated 10-15 km to the north of the Kazbegi region.
Sensitive Alpine Plant Communities to the Global Environmental Changes (Kazbegi Region, the Central Great Caucasus), American Journal of Environmental Protection. Special Issue:Applied Ecology: Problems, Innovations.
Vol. 4, No. 3-1,
2015, pp. 93-100.
Ch. Korner, “Mountain ecosystems in a changing environment”, Eco. mont - Journal on Protected Mountain Areas Research, vol. 6, 2014, pp. 71-77.
W. Larcher, K. Kainmuller, and J. Wagner, “Survival types of high mountain plants under extreme temperatures”, Flora, 2008, pp. 1-22.
Ch. Korner, “Mountain vegetation under environmental change”, in R. Jandl, A. Borsdorf, H. van Miegroet, R. Lackner, R. Psenner, Eds. Alpine Space - Man and Environment. vol. 7: Global Change and Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions. Innsbruck Univ. Press, Innsbruck, 2009, pp. 25-30.
Ch. Korner, “Alpine ecosystems”, in S. A. Levin, Ed., Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, Elsevier, 2013, pp. 148-157.
L. Nagy, and G. Grabherr, The Biology of Alpine Habitats, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
W. Larcher, “Bioclimatic temperatures in the High Alps”, in C. Lutz, Ed. Plants in Alpine Regions: Cell physiology of adaptation and survival strategies. Springer, 2012, pp. 21-27.
G.. Grabherr, M. Gottfried, A. Gruber, and H. Pauli, “Patterns and current changes in alpine plant diversity”, in F. S. Chapin, Ch. Korner, Eds. Arctic and Alpine Biodiversity: Patterns, Causes and Ecosystem Consequences. Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg-New York, 1995, pp. 167–181.
G.. Grabherr, M. Gottfried, and H. Pauli, “GLORIA: A Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine environments”, Mt. Res. Dev., 20, 2000, pp. 190-191.
Ch. Korner, Alpine Plant Life: Functional Plant Ecology of High Mountain Ecosystems, Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, 2003, 333 p.
M. Gottfried, H. Pauli, K. Reiter, and G. Grabherr, “Potential effects of climate change on alpine and nival plants in the Alps”, in: Ch. Korner, and E. M. Spehn, Eds., Mountain Biodiversity - A Global Assessment, London-New York, Parthenon Publ., 2002.
C. M. van de Ven, S. B. Weiss, and W. G. Ernst, “Plant species distributions under present conditions and forecasted for warmer climates in an arid mountain range”, Earth Interact. vol. 11, 2007, pp. 1-33.
D. Scherrer, S. Schmid, and Ch. Korner, “Elevational species shifts in a warmer climate are overestimated when based on weather station data”, Inter. J. of Biometeorology, vol. 55, 2010, pp. 645-654.
D. Scherrer, and Ch. Korner, “Infra-red thermometry of alpine landscapes challenges climatic warming projections”. Global Change Biology, vol. 16, 2010, pp. 2602-2613.
D. Scherrer, and Ch. Korner, “Topographically controlled thermal-habitat differentiation buffers alpine plant diversity against climate warming”. Journal of Biogeography, vol. 38, 2011, pp. 406-416.
W. Larcher, “Klimastress im Gebirge – Adaptationstraining und Selektionsfilter fur Pflanzen”, Rheinisch-Westf. Akad. Wiss. Vortr, vol. 291, 1980, pp. 49–78.
W. Larcher, Physiological Plant Ecology: Ecophysiology and Stress Physiology of Functional Groups”, Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, 2003, 513 p.
G.. Nakhutsrishvili, M. Akhalkati, and O. Abdaladze, “Main treats to the mountain biodiversity in Georgia (the Caucasus)”, Mountain Forum Biull., IX, vol. 2, 2009, pp. 18-19.
G.. Nakhutsrishvili, The Vegetation of Georgia (South Caucasus), Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, 2013, 235 p.
L. Maruashvili, Geomorphology of Georgia (Geoporfologya Gruzii), Metsniereba, Tbilisi, 1971, 346 p. (In Russian).
G.. Nakhutsrishvili, O. Abdaladze, and A. Kikodze, Khevi: Kazbegi Region, Tbilisi, 2005, 54 p.
World Reference Base for Soil Resources, “A framework for international classification, correlation and communication”, Food & Agriculture Organization of the UN, 2006, 128 p.
G.. Nakhutsrishvili, “High- mountain vegetation of the Caucasus region”, in L. Nagy, G. Grabherr, Ch. Korner, and D. B. A. E. Thompson, Eds., Alpine Biodiversity in Europe. Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, 2003, pp. 93-103.
R. Gagnidze, Vascular Plants of Georgia: A Nomenclatural Checklist, Universal, Tbilisi, 2005, 247 p.
A. L. Kharadze, “On the subnival belt of the Greater Caucasus” (Subnivalnyi poias Bolshogo Kavkaza), Inst of Bot. Acad. of Science GSSR, vol. 25, 1965, pp. 103-104.
M. F. Sakhokia, and E. Khutsishvili, (1975): Synopsis of the Flora of Higher Plants of Khevi”, Metsniereba, Tbilisi, 205p.
G.. Nakhutsrishvili, and R. I. Gagnidze, “Die Subnivale und Nivale Hohgebirgsvegetation des Kaukasus”, Phytocoenosis, vol. 11, 1999, pp. 173-182.
G.. Schatz, T. Shulkina, and J. Solomon, Red List of Endemic Plants of the Caucasus Region, Saint Louis, MO, USA, Missouri Botanical Garden Press, 2013.
G.. Nakhutsrishvili, O. Abdaladze, and M. Akhalkatsi, „Biotope types of the treeline of the Central Greater Caucasus“, in: D. Gafta, and J. Akeroyd, eds., Nature Conservation: Concepts and Practice, Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, 2006, pp. 211-225.
Identification Guide of Plants of Georgia (Sakartvelos Mtsenareta Sarkvevi), vol. I-II, Metsniereba, Tbilisi, 1964/1969. (in Georgian).
Flora of Georgia (Sakartvelos Flora), v. I-XII, Metsniereba, Tbilisi, 1971-2013 (in Georgian).
J. Braun-Blanquet, Pflanzensoziologie. Grundzuge der Vegetationskunde. 3. Aufl. Springer, Wien, 1964.
E. van der Maarel, “Transformation of cover-abundance values for appropriate numerical treatment – alternatives to the proposals by Podani”, J. Veg. Sci. vol. 18, 2007, pp. 767–770.
Ch. Korner, “A re-assessment of high elevation treeline positions and their explanation”. Oecologia. vol. 115, 1998, pp. 445-459.
Ch. Korner, Alpine Treelines: Functional Ecology of the Global High Elevation Tree Limits, Springer, Heidelberg, 2012, 220 p.
A. G. Dolukhanov, “Timberline and subalpine belt in Caucasus mountains, USSR”. Alpine Arctic Research, vol. 10, 1978, pp. 409-422.
E. S. Elizbarashvili, T. F. Urushadze, M. E. Elizbarashvili, S. E. Elizbarashvili, and M. K. Schaefer, “Temperature regime of some soil types in Georgia”, Eurasian Soil Sci. vol. 43, 2010, pp. 427–435.
M. Akhalkatsi, O. Abdaladze, G. Nakhutsrishvili, and W. K. Smith, „Facilitation of seedling microsites by Rhododendron caucasicum extends the Betula litwinowii alpine treeline, Caucasus mountains, Republic of Georgia“, Arctic Antarctic Alpine Research, vol. 38, no. 4, 2006, pp. 481-488.
N. M. Hughes, D. M. Johnson, M. Akhalkatsi, and O. Abdaladze, „Characterizing Betula litwinowii seedling microsites at the alpine-treeline ecotone, Central Greater Caucasus mountains, Georgia“, Arctic Antarctic Alpine Research, vol. 41 (1), 2009, pp. 112-118.
T. F. Urushadze, (1997): Basic Soils of Georgia (Sakartvelos Dziritadi Niadagebi), Metsniereba, Tbilisi (in Georgian).
S. Reth, M. Reichstein, and E. Falge, “The effect of soil water content, soil temperature, soil pH-value and the root mass on soil CO2 efflux – A modified model”, Plant & Soil., vol. 268, 2005, pp. 21-33.
X. F. Wen, G. R. Yu, X. M. Sun, Q. K. Li, Y. F. Liu et al., “Soil moisture effect on the temperature dependence of ecosystem respiration in a subtropical Pinus plantation of Southeastern China”. Agric for Meteorol. Vol. 137, 2006, pp. 166-175.
W. Y. Kao, and K. W. Chang, “Soil CO2 efflux from a mountainous forest-grassland ecosystem in central Taiwan”. Botanical Studies, vol. 50, 2009, pp. 337-342.
Z. J. Kikvidze, and G. Nakhutsrishvili, “Facilitation in the subnival vegetation patches”. J. Veg. Sci., vol. 9, 1998, pp. 222-226.
R. M. Callaway, R. W. Brooker, P. Choler, Z. J. Kikvidze, Ch. J. Lortie et al., “Positive interactions among alpine plants increase with stress”. Nature, vol. 417, 2002, pp. 844-848.
H. Pauli, M. Gottfried, S. Dullinger, O. Abdaladze, M. Akhalkatsi et al., “Recent plant diversity changes on Europe’s mountain summits”. Science, vol. 336, no. 6070, 2012, pp. 353-355.
A. Mariotti, N. Zeng, J. H. Yoon, V. Artale, A. Navara et al., “Mediterranean water cycle changes: transition to drier 21st century conditions in observations and CMIP3 simulation”, Environm. Res. Lett. Vol.3, 2008, 044001. (doi:10.1088/1748-9326/3/4/044001).
S. Del Rio, L. Herrero, R. Fraile, A. Penas, “Spatial distribution of recent rainfall trends in Spain (1961- 2006)”, Int. J. Climatol., vol. 31, 2011, pp. 656-667.
Kh. Gigauri, M. Akhalkatsi, G. Nakhutsrishvili, O. Abdaladze, “First Signs of weak thermophilisation on the GLORIA-EUROPE Target Region in the Central Caucasus GE-SAK)”, (Termopilizaciis Pirveli Sustad Gamokhatuli Nishnebi Centraluri Kavkasionis GLORIA-EUROPE-is Samonitoringo Qselis Sakvlev Mtsvervalebze - GE-SAK), in G. Nakhutsrishvili, ed., Biodiversity of Georgia. Tbilisi, Georg. Nat. Acad. of Sci. Publ, 2011, pp. 19-22 (in Georgian with English summary).
Kh. Gigauri, M. Akhalkatsi, G. Nakhutsrishvili, O. Abdaladze, “Monitoring of vascular plant diversity in a changing climate in the alpine zone of the Central Greater Caucasus”, Turk. J. Bot., vol. 37(6), 2013, pp. 1104-1114.
Kh. Gigauri, O. Abdaladze, G. Nakhutsrishvili, M. Akhalkatsi (2014): „Vascular plant diversity and climate change in the alpine zone of the Central Greater Caucasus”, International Journal of Ecosystems and Ecology Science. Vol. 4 (4), 2014, pp. 573-589.
B. Erschbamer, M. Mallaun, P. Unterluggauer, O. Abdaladze, M. Akhalkatsi M et al., (2010): “Plant diversity along altitudinal gradients in the Central Alps (South Tyrol, Italy) and in the Central Greater Caucasus (Kazbegi Region, Georgia)”, Tuexenia, vol. 30, 2010, pp. 11–29.
B. Erschbamer, M. Mallaun, P. Unterlugauer, G. Nakhutsrishvili G, M. Akhalkatsi M et al., „Plant diversity along altitudinal gradients in the Central Alps and in the Central Caucasus: the project GLORIA in south Tyrol (Italy) and in the Kazbegi region (Georgia)“, in F. Pedrotti, ed., Colloques Phytosociologiques, XXIX, Camerino, Italy, 2013, pp. 167-188.
Georgia’s Second National Communication Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change”, Tbilisi, 2009, 230 p.