In Australia, we know that climate change driven fire regimes are impacting on plant species in mountain environments.
Research published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change describes a series of ‘sudden and catastrophic ecosystem shifts’ that have occurred recently across Australia. These changes, caused by the combined stress of gradual climate change and extreme weather events, are overwhelming ecosystems’ natural resilience.
In the south east of the continent, in terms of massive fires (greater than 250,000 ha), Victoria experienced two such events in the 19th century and five in the 20th century. In less than two decades, we have already had three mega fires in the 21st century. This has led to fears that Alpine Ash could become extinct in many parts of the alps unless we intervene through more extensive wildfire suppression or artificial seeding. It appears that increased fire frequency is the key factor impacting on the likely survival of plant species like the alpine ash.
New research, covered in the Colorado-based High Country News, points to temperature rise as an issue for mountain species in sections of North America.