Alpine sites

South Tyrol is a mountainous country. A considerable part of the land area is above 2000m a.s.l. The conditions are extreme, making tree growth no longer possible above a certain altitude. Soil formation is also very slow. This makes the substrate all the more important: whether the soil is limestone or silicate, results in completely different vegetation. This, in turn, results in very different communities of insects and other small animals. In total, we investigate 60 alpine areas at an altitude of 2300 to 3000m above sea level in biodiversity monitoring. We have assigned the areas to two major categories: Areas with a closed meadow layer and more extreme areas dominated by rock, scree and open soil.

Above the alpine timberline there is a naturally closed grass belt. Different grasses and grass-like plants dominate there. On pure lime and dolomite these are grasslands of sedges and blue moor-grass (Sesleria caerulea). On acidic silicates, on the other hand, we mainly find stands of Carex curvula. Finally, there are also rocks with intermediate substrate, such as calcareous slate, in which Kobresia myosuroides often dominates. Following this three-way division, we examine 10 areas on limestone substrates, 10 on intermediate substrates and 10 on silicate, such as Porphyry and Gneiss. Due to logistic reasons we didn’t chose them randomly.

Alpine meadows on calacareous slates with Kobresia myosuroides in Sengestal (next to Freienfeld/Campo Trens)

Sesleria ovata, Pflersch/Val di Fleres

Wurmmaulspitze/Cima di Valmala in the Pfunderer Berge/Alpi di Fundres

Armeria alpina, Vals/Val di Valles

In places where the conditions are too extreme and where rock prevents the formation of soil, a closed lawn can no longer be formed. Plants only grow in specially protected places here, such as rock niches. Of course, here too, the basic substrate is decisive for the plant and animal species we find. In total, we dedicate 30 sites to these extreme locations, 10 to lime and dolomite, 10 to acid silicate and 10 to intermediate rock.

Earleaf bellflower (Campanula cochleariifolia), Würzjoch/Passo Erbe

High Alpine landscape on metamorphic bedrock

Glacier buttercup (Ranunculus glacialis), Sarntaler Alpen/Alpi di Sarentino

Alpine rupturewort (Herniaria alpina), Vals/Val di Valles