From: University of Washington
Published November 7, 2017 01:10 PM

With Climate Change, Mount Rainier Floral Communities Could 'Reassemble' With New Species Relationships, Interactions

Central to the field of ecology is the mantra that species do not exist in isolation: They assemble in communities — and within these communities, species interact. Predators hunt prey. Parasites exploit hosts. Pollinators find flowers.

Yet these interactions are built on more than just serendipity, because species adapt over generations to environmental cues. But when conditions shift due to climate change, species might change markedly in response — creating “reassembled” communities that might show disrupted interactions among species.

Recently, a trio of ecologists from the University of Washington witnessed such reassembly. It was by accident: They were collecting data on the subalpine wildflowers that bloom each summer on the slopes of Mount Rainier, a volcano stretching 14,411 feet high (4,932 meters) in the Cascade Range of Washington state. As they report in a paper published online on Oct. 11 in the journal Ecology, an unseasonably warm, dry summer in 2015 caused reassembly among these subalpine wildflower communities.

Read more at University of Washington

Image: Wildflowers on Mount Rainier in the summer. (Credit: Elli Theobald)

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