Spatial and temporal biodiversity variations in a high mountain environment: the case of the proglacial margin of the Evettes, Natura 2000 area (Savoie, French Alps)

Abstract : The aim of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the changes in plant cover after the recent glacier retreat, in an alpine environment. The selected study site in Savoie in the French Alps (2502-2509m asl), belonging to the European network Natura 2000, provides favourable conditions for the study due to the flat glacier foreland, where the glacier did not advance since the Little Ice Age. Data collected from 110 botanical plots were correlated with dated glacial and proglacial landforms. Species diversity has been analysed using the Shannon-Weaver index, the Grime classification, and the uncommon species described in the European list of Natura 2000 European Network. Classical and multivariate analyses have been made to determine the impact of the glacial retreat on the biodiversity variation. We show that the changes in species richness and vegetation cover were related to the distance from the glacier front. The biodiversity index was less than 2.5 near the glacier but above 4 at the furthest point. The highest plant diversity, however, was observed at an intermediate position, where competitive and pioneer plants were equally represented in the field. This location, concurrently, showed the highest heterogeneity in the activity of periglacial processes. It seems that the most heterogeneous and disturbed soils, due to inherited deposits and currently active periglacial processes, are responsible for an increase in biodiversity.
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Pierre Pech, Arques Sylvie, Vincent Jomelli, Ingrid Maillet, Noémie Mélois, et al.. Spatial and temporal biodiversity variations in a high mountain environment: the case of the proglacial margin of the Evettes, Natura 2000 area (Savoie, French Alps). Cybergeo : Revue européenne de géographie / European journal of geography, UMR 8504 Géographie-cités, 2007, URL : http://www.cybergeo.eu/index6106.html. ⟨hal-00442843⟩

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