Wednesday, March 21, 2012

low-tech experience produces accurate data about the threat to plant biodiversity and can also help carbon capture

snow covers the

Aubonne valley overlooking Lake Geneva. Groups of beech, maple and juniper trees cling to the slopes of the Jura mountains.


Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Swiss Forest, Snow and Landscape Research Institute (IFRFNP) reduced by more than 700 full segments of the earth with vegetation to an altitude of 1400 meters. Then replant the samples below the slope, in special cases, equipped with sensors, allowing researchers to study the impact of climate change on mountain ecosystems.

This original experiment shows much greater precision than any computer model of climate change is a threat to plant biodiversity. It may also reveal the soil's capacity to sequester carbon permanently, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"At the beginning of our project in the summer of 2009, there was a clear distinction between the vegetation of the three localities. But now it is much more homogenous," said Alexandre Buttler, who heads the project and conferences in the ecology of the EPFL and the University of Besancon, through the French border.

an average of 32 plant species are found at 1400 meters, but two years after being transplanted only 25 remain at 1,000 meters and from 20 to 600 meters. The amount of biomass or forage other words, also decreases because of dry conditions, at least in the case of pastures. "By and large semi-open grassland biodiversity is to move pro-growth and grass," the scientists say.

published by the" breathing "of the soil - caused by the activity of roots and microorganisms, fungi and small invertebrates that break down carbon in humus -. was halved in the open pasture This is because it is too dry, "he said. "On the other hand, runoff water contains much more carbon from the residue of living organisms." This greenhouse gas is finally released into the environment.

So does this mean more or less CO

In short, what we ask. "We have all the answers," admits Butler. "We must carry out our observations, taking into account variations from year to year, before obtaining a complete picture."

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