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Monitoring Alpine biodiversity

Climate crisis and biodiversity: a research project in the Berchtesgaden National Park investigates interrelationships. (c) Berchtesgaden National Park, Kurt Wagner

Photo traps, audio recorders, soil samples: a unique research project in the Alps documents the effects of the climate crisis on biodiversity in the Berchtesgaden National Park/D. The findings will also benefit other mountain regions.

An inventory of all animals, plants and fungi: this is the aim of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in collaboration with the Berchtesgaden National Park. Considerable amounts of data on climate change are already available, as research director Rupert Seidl from TUM explains: “We are now supplementing this with the evaluation of plant mapping, insect traps, photo traps for vertebrates, acoustic recordings of birds and bats, and soil samples for fungi and bacteria. The first results are expected by the end of 2021, for example on the distribution of species at different altitudes. Since climatic effects are not overshadowed by human activity in the National Park, it is a particularly good place for studying climate-related changes in ecosystems”, he says. The measuring stations will provide time series data beyond 2021 and the knowledge gained will also be made available for ecosystems in other mountain regions. The Bavarian Ministry of the Environment is supporting the cooperation between the National Park and the TUM.

Mitigating the biodiversity crisis

If public money flows in the wrong direction, it damages biodiversity. A study published in August 2020 lists 160 negative examples from Switzerland, including the earmarking of transport taxes, the promotion of small hydroelectric power plants, reduced tax rates on mineral oil and much more. “The biodiversity crisis could be mitigated if subsidies were only granted where they did not demonstrably impair biodiversity”, says Irmi Seidl. She heads the Economics and Social Sciences Research Unit at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL and is a member of CIPRA's Sounding Board. A third of all animal and plant species and almost half of all habitat types are endangered in Switzerland alone. The situation is similarly dramatic in other Alpine countries, such as Austria, where the Ministry of the Environment now intends to invest 5 million euros in research and monitoring and in raising awareness of biodiversity.

 

Sources and further Information:

Erforschung von Artenvielfalt und Klimawandel in den Alpen (TUM, de)
Einzigartiges Monitoring der Artenvielfalt im Alpenraum startet (GaLaBau, de)
Gewessler richtet Biodiversitätsfonds ein (ORF, de)
Neuer Lagebericht: Europas Natur weiter unter Druck (Europäische Kommission, de)
Über 160 Subventionen schaden der Biodiversität in der Schweiz (WSL, de)
Una cassetta-nido per il fringuello alpino alla Capanna Gnifetti (Club Alpino Italiano, it)