Global change and conservation of plant biodiversity in Mediterranean high mountains
Global change is a major force affecting the conservation of plant biodiversity and high-mountain habitats are especially useful for evaluating range shifts and local adaptive responses because they provide sharp environmental gradients. Mediterranean mountains are of particular interest because water supply is strongly limited. Because latitudinal shifts are not always feasible due to orographic isolation, upward shifts to higher summits can be irremediably associated with a decrease in habitat area. Thus, as lowland plants expand their upper limit due to water availability and higher temperatures, they push cryophilic plant populations to the verge of extinction. How are these plant populations coping with this threat? Which demographic, genetic and environmental processes are taking place? Our reseach using plants, such as Silene ciliata and Armeria caespitosa as model species, is providing relevant information on this matter.