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Journal Articles Global Ecology and Biogeography Year : 2023

Climate change impacts on Mediterranean vegetation are amplified at low altitudes


Aim: In the face of ongoing climate warming, we wanted to quantify impacts on vegetation at one of the major climatic and biogeographical boundaries of Europe, the limit between the Mediterranean and Eurosiberian biogeographical regions. We analyse temperature and moisture requirements of plants along altitudinal gradients at regional scale in the period 1980–2020 and we explore if changes coincide with observed changes in the same regions in terms of measured climatic data. Location: Southern France. Time period: 1980–2020. Taxa: Vascular plants. Methods: We calculated shifts in plants’ temperature and moisture requirements for a large floristic database from south-eastern France (SIMETHIS) during the period 1980–2020 along altitudinal gradients by using ecological indicator values (EIV). Additionally, we analysed standardized weather station data from the same area and period, to investigate whether floristic changes are synchronized with climate changes. Results: Vegetation data suggest a linear increase in temperature requirements of plant communities from 1980 to 2020 with a greater change at low altitudes. Upward shifts in temperature requirements coincided with observed climate change although warming did not show a general trend towards greater increases at low altitudes. Data on vegetation and climate suggest an upward shift of respectively 150 and 300 m for the boundary between Mediterranean and temperate belts. Moisture requirements of vegetation indicate an increase of the frequency of dry adapted species at low altitudes but an increase towards higher moisture requirements at high altitudes. Comparing vegetation responses with climate data suggests that responses are faster at low altitudes. Main conclusions: Our analyses show that strong general changes in vegetation are underway and highlight faster responses of vegetation to warming in low altitudes compared to high altitudes and demonstrate the need for reliable data on vegetation and climate changes, especially on water balance.

Dates and versions

hal-04093262 , version 1 (10-05-2023)



Arne Saatkamp, Olivier Argagnon, Virgile Noble, Marie Finocchiaro, Eric Meineri. Climate change impacts on Mediterranean vegetation are amplified at low altitudes. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 2023, pp.1-14. ⟨10.1111/geb.13682⟩. ⟨hal-04093262⟩
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