Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA)


Altitude referenced biological databases – a tool for understanding mountain biodiversity

25–30 July 2006, Kazbegi, Republic of Georgia


Mary T. Kalin Arroyo et al. (Universidad de Chile, Chile)
Data base mining for plant diversity in the Chilean Cordillera

Michael Donoghue (Yale University, USA)
Phylogenies, biogeography, and the genesis of global mountain biodiversity

I will briefly give examples from my work on plants to illustrate the value of phylogenetic and historical biogeographic perspectives in understanding the genesis of mountain biodiversity. I will emphasize geographic patterns in species richness and the use of georeferenced museum specimen data together with phylogenetic trees.

Thomas Fabbro (University of Basel, Switzerland)
Trends in functional morphology of mountain plants distilled from anelectronic database for the Alps

Elevational gradients provide excellent opportunities for comparative ecological research. A database with morphological and ecological characteristics of about 4000 plant species from more than 100 different families growing in the Alps can be used to inspect elevational trends. The large size of the data set allows us to compare elevational trends among systematic groups, growth forms, and plants with similar environmental requirements (e.g. light, water, & nutrients). With the availability of overall plant height, specific effects of altitude can be separated from mere side-effects of elevational decline of plant size. To experimentally confirm detected trends in the field, the data set can additionally allow an informed decision on the sampling design.

Jingyun Fang (Peking University, China)
Exploring altitudinal patterns of plant diversity in China's mountains

China is a mountainous country with rich biodiversity resources. To explore altitudinal patterns and geographic differentiation of plant species diversity in China's mountains, Peking University has conducted a multiyear project on survey of plant species diversity of China's Mountains since the mid-1990s. I will present the protocol of the project, including the goals, research topics, mountain sites, and methodological standards for field surveys and data analysis. I will also show some achievements of the project.

Christoph Häuser (Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart, Germany)
Lepidoptera databases as research tools for studying a megadiversegroup in mountain ecosystems - global and regional aspects

Examples of stand-alone and web-based database projects on Lepidoptera will be briefly introduced, including a global taxonomic information system on butterflies (GloBIS), an online recording system for individual field observations on selected species of butterflies and moths (science4you), and several regional/local inventory and faunistic surveys (southwestern Germany, southern Ecuador), which include altitudinal information. General and specific aspects of using database applications as research tools for dealing with a megadiverse group of organisms will be discussed, with an emphasis on general approaches and data standards to be considered for mountain ecosystem studies.

Christian Körner (University of Basel, Switzerland)
Beyond data mining: The evolutionary and ecological usefulness ofelectronic biodiversity data in combination with geo-physicalinformation systems

Gia Nakhutsrishvili (Georgian Academy of Science, Georgia)
Introduction to the Kasbek Ecoregion

David Nogues (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
Climate change impact assessments on alpine flora: the case ofSpanish Pyrenean herbarium dataset

The Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE) has recently developed a digital dataset containing the information of the Pyrenean flora. This e-dataset is based on the information collected during the last 60 years, 1950-2005, and it contains more than a half-million of records and information on 3000 species (including nomenclature - European or Iberian one -, biology, phenology or distribution). Also, the information is accessible thanks to a web page ( Both the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) and the Aragonian Regional Government have collaborated to support this initiative. In this workshop, I will present a description on Pyrenean flora e-dataset, the information available for other taxa in the Pyrenees to be implemented in the e-dataset, the structure of the web page, and the implementation process of the e-dataset in a Geographic Information System (in relation with climate information, climate change scenarios, topographical and geological information or the network of protected areas). This last task is the more recent effort of the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology in order to reach useful analyses for disciplines as Conservation Biology, Macroecology or Biogeography. This e-dataset is considered as one of the main "pillars" for the future research in the IPE and it is the main information for ongoing projects or PhD's. So, new researching lines are starting at the IPE related to species richness patterns along the altitudinal gradient and its controlling factors, the impact of future climate change or the analyses on functional or phylogenetical patterns to get some lessons of the possible impacts of global change on Pyrenean ecosystems.

Larry Speers (Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Denmark)
Building and Utilizing the GBIF Online "Metacollection". TheButterflies of Canada: A Case Study

Collectively, the approximately 2-3 billion specimens with associated locality and date of collection data are held in the world's natural history collections provides our most complete historical record of the biodiversity of our planet. However, because any one collection contains onlya limited amount of the total information, it is actually the collective holdings of all collections taken together (the worldwide "metacollection") that is most likely to supply critical information. The distributed Butterflies of Canada "Metacollection" available through GBIF will be used to illustrate the development of this type of data resource and show how it could be utilized to contribute to a mountain biodiversity assessment.

Eva Spehn (University of Basel, Switzerland)
GMBA: a crosscutting network of DIVERSITAS. Phase 3 "Altitude referenced biological databases - a tool for understanding mountain biodiversity"

Jorge Soberon (The University of Kansas, USA)
Getting altitude-referenced databases from distributed providers.Issues of quality control

Hang Sun (Kunming Branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, China)
The species richness and differentiation of characteristic groups inthe elevation gradient from Mountain Hengduan, Southwest China

The species richness and differentiation of characteristic groups in the elevation gradient from Mountain Hengduan, Southwest China Hengduan Mountain region is one of the world's 25 biodiversity "Hotspot". A characteristic feature of the region is extreme changes in elevation from 1000-5000m over very short distances. Very high endemic rate and many large genera formed diversity center concentrated on 500000km2. The species richness ananlysing from some selected genera showed that the highest species diversity are at the altitude range between 3000-4200m. Within the extent, the proportion of endemic species richness normally increase with the elevation ascending; and some reach to peak in the middle of the extent; only a few group, their high endemic rate do not occur in the elevation range. Therefore, we speculated that the elevation range of 3000-4200m probably concerntrate the most temperate taxa, which should be a key altitude extent for the species differentiation and radiate evolution and should be considered priorit to be protected.

Andreas Tribsch (University of Salzburg, Austria)
The EU-Project IntraBioDiv - Tracking surrogates for intraspecificbiodiversity: towards efficient selection strategies for theconservation of natural genetic resources using comparative mappingand modelling approaches

IntraBioDiv is an ongoing Specific Targeted Research Project supported by the Commission of the European Union. The international consortium combines expertise ranging from population and molecular genetics, over ecology, taxonomy and biogeography to ecological modelling and conservation biology. In Alps and Carpathians, 2033 high-mountain taxa (1557 species) are present of which 547 taxa (418 species) are endemic taxa. The majority of endemic taxa are subalpine to alpine and are restricted to habitats above the treeline. The database contains joint distribution data of these taxa obtained from a series of regional and national working groups. Moreover, georeferenced genetic diversity data from selected 40 species were obtained by AFLP fingerprinting. This allows for a comparison of species diversity and habitat diversity with patterns of genetic diversity. In both, genetic diversity and species diversity patterns, clines and gradients are observed.

Piotr Tykarski (Warsaw University, Poland)
Tracking geographic distribution of species from verticaldistribution data available in the GBIF network. A case study onsaproxylic beetles from the Tatra Mts. and the Alps

The purpose of the study was to investigate community structure and dynamics of beetle associates of scolytids on Norway spruce Picea abies (L.) Karst over the elevational gradient, in the montane environment. The sampling plots were situated in seven elevation zones (from ca. 900 to 1550 m a.s.l) in two valleys of the Tatra National Park, Poland. 164 species were found, including 15 primary scolytids. While species richness was decreasing up the elevation range, species diversity index showed its peak in middle elevations, although the highest values were in the lowest elevation zone. The density of the community increased over the season, reaching maximum values in September at the upper plots. There was a shift in the community composition from lowland/widespread to montane/boreal species dominating at higher elevations. Parallel traits to Scandinavian fauna can be found in the community composition.

Niklaus Zbinden (Swiss Ornithological Station, Sempach, Switzerland)
Effects of altitude and landscape composition on species richness andabundance of birds in the Swiss Alps

As part of the work for the Swiss breeding bird atlas (1993-1996) quantitative surveys of 125 breeding bird species were carried out in 2622 km2 (6% of the surface of the country). This data set allows the analysis of the spatial occurrence and the distribution along the altitudinal gradient in the Alps. Species richness per km2 decreased with increasing altitude, by 1.2 species per 100 m. The decrease was lower in squares with high altitudinal differences and in squares with high forest cover. In the central and northern parts of the Alps the decrease was stronger than on the southern slope of the Alps. The available atlas data allow to quantify the relationships between the altitudinal gradient and/or landscape composition and the abundance of individual breeding bird species and thus to model expected effects of changes in climate and landscape.