Mountain ecosystem services, adaptive management and global change (3)

The session focused on ecosystem service assessments in “low-stature” vegetation, including grasslands above and below potential treeline, and wetlands. The speakers covered junior to senior scientists. I found the following elements particularly remarkable:

(1) Some agencies, together with research scientists, are considering and investigating the potential of active translocations of species to support adaptation of vegetation to climate change. While this is hotly debated (albeit not in our session), I believe that pilot studies on the feasibility of such approaches are highly welcome. I personally feel that such efforts are unlikely to be put into practice, at least not within the coming 1-2 decades, due to the large uncertainties surrounding the future development of climate as such. But the research may lay important foundations for later action, particularly as long-term investigations are needed to elucidate establishment success in view of high background noise.

(2) Transplant experiments to evaluate climate change impacts were reviewed, and a new experiment with a (near-)factorial design was presented, suggested that transplanted plants did not like their new environment. This adds important empirical evidence to test numerical models of future vegetation shifts.

(3) In a comprehensive, long-term and multi-faceted study the impacts of different levels of sheep grazing on ecosystem services were evaluated. I greatly appreciated the effort to quantify numerous ecosystem services, and to derive an overall evaluation metric.

Overall, the session showed that multiple management approaches exist or are being developed that will help ecosystem managers to cope with the challenge of environmental change. A big thank you to all contributors!

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