The aim of MIREN is to understand the effects of global change on species’ distributions and biodiversity in mountainous areas. We have expanded our initial focus on non-native plant invasions to consider more generally species redistribution under different drivers of global change, including biological invasions, climate change and land-use change. We perform observational and experimental studies along elevation gradients to evaluate and quantify the processes and mechanisms that are shaping mountain plant communities at regional to global scales.
Surveys and monitoring
The core screening surveys are intended to assess the present state of invasion and vegetation change in each of the mountain regions. Ecological and genetic patterns at the landscape and population scale are analysed along the major environmental gradients. Changes in these patterns are monitored over longer periods of time. The results will enable more informed predictions of spread of invasives in mountain systems, and the changes to mountain communities due to climate and invasion. This will allow for development of a prioritization framework to aid efficient and effective management of vegetation change in mountains.
We therefore maintain since 2005 an ever-growing global network of long-term non-native and native plant species surveys along mountain roads. In 2016, we added a comparable survey along mountain trails in several core regions.
Other observational approaches include assessing the performance of specific species at core sites, allowing for improved evaluation of drivers of invasion at a range of scales.
New is our citizen science project: we are joining forces with people all over the world (including you!) to gather critical information on the movements of rapidly traveling plant species along mountain trails, and thus unravel the mysteries of plant invasion and climate change. Eager to join this easy yet rewarding monitoring project? Learn more about it here.
Plant invasion data
MIREN has compiled a database on invasive plant distribution in mountain environments from literature, herbarium records and our surveys. The results of were published in McDougall et al. (2011). The data will soon be available here as a downloadable spreadsheet. McDougall et al. (2011) should be cited if you use the data.
Standardized comparative experiments:
Removal, reciprocal transplant and common garden experiments are set up similarly in all core regions. Both disturbed and natural habitats along the altitudinal gradients are used, manipulating locally characteristic alien species and alien species that are shared among core regions. The results will close important gaps in our knowledge on the mechanisms of plant invasions in heterogeneous environments.