Changes in the different climate parameters and higher concentrations of carbon in the atmospheric influence photosynthesis and affect the growth and development of all flora.
The response of mountain plants to extreme conditions may lead to critical situations if these conditions are exacerbated by climate change, and also if new more competitive species arrive.
Paradoxically, the decrease in snow cover caused by climate change reduces its insulating effect in winter, exposing high mountain flora to extreme temperatures.
Climate change is leading to changes in the different stages of plants’ life cycles, such as the earlier appearance of the first shoots in spring, or longer growing seasons.
According to studies in other mountains, the combined effect of climate change and human action is causing changes in the distribution of different species, altering the characteristic composition of mountain communities, reducing their diversity and favouring the acceleration of the thermophilisation process.
A general trend has been observed towards an increase in species that need warmth, and a decrease in those that need cooler conditions (a phenomenon known as thermophilisation).
In higher-altitude areas inhabited by specialist species adapted to the cold, changes in distribution may lead to their local extinction due to the gradual disappearance of the conditions where they can thrive.
The alteration of the composition, life cycle and distribution of flora, combined with changes in land use and other human-caused stress factors may lead to alterations in the ecosystems, endangering key ecosystem services such as the conservation of sensitive species and ecosystems, the maintenance of ecological continuity, the educational and scientific value of typical mountain flora, and the region’s attractiveness as a holiday destination.
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