Macalester Reviews in Biogeography


Will global climate change affect the spatial distribution and abundance of biodiversity along mountains equally? The elevational gradients inherent as one moves up a mountain slope help define the many biological patterns that emerge as key indicators for species richness in an era of rising global temperatures. When global temperatures arise, the microclimates found along different elevational ranges on mountains also fluctuate. As abiotic characteristics such as daily air temperature, daily precipitation, and annual snowmelt change overtime, so will the biotic communities on a mountain. Some species may be able to adapt to their new environments, while other may have the capacity to shift their ranges upward. However, the biological realities facing mountain species vary given the elevational and life history characteristics of each individual species. This review paper summarizes many of the major biogeographical patterns that have been observed to occur on elevational gradients as a result of global warming. This is by no means an all-inclusive report on the state of scientific knowledge in this important field, but instead a discussion of the varied ecological realities facing biota along mountains throughout the world.