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This book is unique in providing a global overview of alpine (high mountain) habitats that occur above the natural (cold-limited) tree line, describing the factors that have shaped them over both ecological and evolutionary timescales. The broad geographic coverage helps synthesise common features whilst revealing differences in the world's major alpine systems from the Arctic to the Tropics. The words "barren" and "wasteland" have often been applied to describe landscapes beyond the tree line. However, a closer look reveals a large diversity of habitats, assemblages and individual taxa in the alpine zone, largely connected to topographic diversity within individual alpine regions.
The book considers habitat-forming factors (landforms, energy and climate, hydrology, soils, and vegetation) individually, as well as their composite impacts on habitat characteristics. Evolution and population processes are examined in the context of the responsiveness / resilience of alpine habitats to global change. Finally, a critical assessment of the potential impacts of climate change, atmospheric pollutants and land use is made and related to the management and conservation options available for these unique habitats.
Interest in mountains continues to grow as their resource importance is increasingly recognized. This accessible text is suitable for both senior undergraduate and graduate students taking courses in ecology and environmental sciences as well as the many professional ecologists and conservation biologists requiring a concise, authoritative overview of the topic.
1. Introduction: what is alpine?; 2. High mountains in latitude life zones - a worldwide perspective; 3. Elevation gradients; 4. The alpine environment - energy and climate; 5. Habitat creating factors: landforms, hydrology, and soils; 6. Alpine terrestrial habitats and community types / assemblages; 7. Biogeography, adaptation and evolution of alpine organisms; 8. Temporal and spatial dynamics; 9. Global change impacts on alpine habitats: climate and nitrogen deposition; 10. Land use and conservation of alpine landscapes, ecosystems, and species; 11. Concluding remarks; References; Index
[A] Unique global overview of alpine habitats. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research [A] comprehensive introduction into the biology of alpine habitats. Basic and Aplied Ecology