Project

Back to overview

Mountain biodiversity in the Caucasus and its functional significance

English title Mountain biodiversity in the Caucasus and its functional significance
Applicant Körner Christian
Number 128057
Funding scheme SCOPES
Research institution Botanisches Institut Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Ecology
Start/End 01.12.2009 - 31.05.2013
Approved amount 90'000.00
Show all

All Disciplines (4)

Discipline
Ecology
Environmental Research
Botany
Pedology

Keywords (17)

biodiversity; land use; erosion; global change; Caucasus; mountain ecology; datamining; productivity; management; Great Caucasus; mountain biodiversity; indicator species; open access; electronic biodiversity database; georeference; GBIF; GMBA

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Module 1: Slope stability and biodiversity in the Caucasus, a synthesis of available knowledge and recommendations. Grazing and erosion affect biodiversity on steep mountain terrain. In a previous SCOPES research project, species had been identified and ranked which are particularly robust against erosion and thus useful for re-vegetation activities. A keystone species had been discovered (Festuca valesiaca) that excerts slope engineer functions as soon as erosion leads to gully formation and creates erosion edges. Surprisingly, the very same species had been found to play a similar role in the Swiss Central Alps (paper submitted by Caprez et al.; parallel project in Switzerland by Huck et al. in the uppermost Reuss valley). Each of the winner and looser species (a total of c. 50 species) will be now characterized by range limits, centers of abundance in terms of elevation, geology and topography, to explore their wider role in a greater geographic framework (see module 2). These data will help to predict effects of global change and to identify indicator taxa (or groups of taxa) for sustainable rangeland management. The module offers synergies with ongoing research in the Alps (similar works in Innsbruck and Grenoble), following the research agenda of the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) of DIVERSITAS.Module 2: Biodiversity in the Great Caucasus: open access species database for improved biodiversity management and projections of trends under global change. This module proposes an electronic biodiversity archive initiative, aiming at building an electronic database that includes both, archive data (herbarium vouchers) as well as observational data (relevé data) of more than 40 years of field work in steep mountain terrain by the Georgian team (many hundreds of 'relevés', each consisting of exactly geo-referenced species lists). This database will open the possibility to link the Georgian field ecology community with the GBIF (Copenhagen) international biodiversity data portal, in particular to contribute to the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) mountain portal with GBIF (online in 2010). Open access to Great Caucasus data will permit a much larger comparison of typical settings of plant communities in steep mountains worldwide. In addition, the project will distill large scale patterns of species diversity in the Great Caucasus with respect to land use and erosion aspects (see Module 1), climatic and topographic affiliations of certain taxa and elevational trends. A particular task will be identifying the environmental envelope of species that had been found to be key stone species for slope stability.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Publications

Publication
Reasons and processes leading to the erosion of crop genetic diversity in mountainous regions of Georgia
Akhalkatsi Maia, Ekhvaia Jana, Mosulishvili Marine, Nakhutsrishvili George, Abdaladze Otar, Batsatsashvili Ketevan (2010), Reasons and processes leading to the erosion of crop genetic diversity in mountainous regions of Georgia, in Mountain Research and Development , 30(3), 304-310.
Diversity and genetic erosion of ancient crops and wild relatives of agricultural cultivars for food: implications for nature conservation in Georgia (Caucasus)
Akhalkatsi Maia, Ekhvaia Jana, Asanidze Zezva, Diversity and genetic erosion of ancient crops and wild relatives of agricultural cultivars for food: implications for nature conservation in Georgia (Caucasus), in Tiefenbacher John (ed.), InTech, Croatia.
Drought at erosion edges selects for a ‘hidden’ keystone species
Caprez Riccarda, Spehn Eva M, Nakhutsrishvili George, Körner Christian, Drought at erosion edges selects for a ‘hidden’ keystone species, in Plant ecology and diversity.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
EEF Kongress 26.09.2011 Avila, Spain


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Distribution, Prediction and Conservation of Alpine species in the Central Greater Caucasus 21.06.2012 Stephantsminda Alpine Ecology Institute of Ilia State University, Georgia

Knowledge transfer events



Self-organised

Title Date Place

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
139921 PSC Plant Science Family Program 01.05.2012 Agora
118167 Global mountain biodiversity assessment coordination office 2008-2010 01.02.2008 Research Infrastructure
124809 The ecological and socio-economic consequences of land transformation in alpine regions: an interdisciplinary assessment and VALuation of current changes in the Ursern Valley, key region in the Swiss central Alps 01.04.2009 Interdisciplinary projects
110670 Towards sustainable use of mountain pastures in the Central Caucasus: effects of recent land use changes on plant diversity and soil stability 01.01.2006 SCOPES
135726 Global mountain biodiversity assessment coordination office 2011-2014 01.04.2011 Research Infrastructure

Abstract

The project will provide a synthesis of available knowledge and recommendations on slope stability and biodiversity in the Caucasus, profiting from results of a previous SCOPES project, where we identified species, which are particularly robust against erosion. We will now explore the role of these species in a greater geographic framework, by making available a huge dataset on plant diversity of the Caucasus accumulated by the Prof. G. Nakhutsrishvili and his team over the last 40 years. From the database we will distill large scale patterns of species diversity in the Caucasus with respect to land use and erosion aspects, and use it for projections of trends under global change and improved biodiversity management in the Caucasus. In the end, these long-term biodiversity data will be made internationally available via the GMBA Mountain Portal with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.
-