GLOBAL OBSERVATION RESEARCH INITIATIVE IN ALPINE ENVIRONMENTS

Important features of a durable long-term operation

An effective method with low maintenance costs

  • The use of simple methods and low maintenance costs of the permanent plots underpin a durable long-term operation. The sampling design is focused on the fundamental climatic gradients (altitude and large-scale horizontal gradients across the major life zones) and thus will be effective in assessing the current and future large-scale patterns of plant diversity of the world's mountains.
  • The establishment and re-recording of GLORIA permanent plots can be made without costly equipment. The time requirement of re-recording is about half of that needed for the establishment of the sites. As monitoring intervals are foreseen to be in the range of 5 to 10 years there is no need for an expensive high-frequency service of the sites.

A global community of committed researchers

  • A durable large-scale observation network is accomplishable owing to the large number of committed ecologists. The interest in joining GLORIA has been high world-wide among ecologists, geographers and climate impact researchers because of the network's unrivalled global design of comparable sites along the three fundamental climatic gradients.
  • New sites have been established by using local or national funds (e.g., in Switzerland, Italy, Russia, New Zealand, Australia and the USA) since the start of GLORIA-Europe.
    In addition to the European Commission, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture supports GLORIA; this exemplifies that national governments may have a strong interest in promoting such long-term observation networks.

Education and training for future field workers

  • A successful and durable long-term operation requires, in addition to adequate funding, the availability of trained research staff.
  • To many young researchers, the GLORIA network is already well known: some have been involved in establishing the GLORIA-Europe sites, others have learned about the aims and methods of GLORIA at university courses (e.g. in Italy and Germany). Many of the GLORIA participants are based at universities. Being the major scientific educational institutions, universities will assure that an experienced well-trained generation of researchers will be aware of the importance and the value of future long-term monitoring efforts.

High-quality baseline data - an investment for the future

  • The comprehensive dataset compiled during the GLORIA-Europe project is the first standardised account of a continent's alpine plant diversity which will be a baseline for model projections and future comparisons.
  • Standardised in-situ data from a large-scale network of permanent plots becomes increasingly attractive for re-investigators with time.
  • Such high-quality data at sites undisturbed by direct human land-use will be invaluable for any future assessment or model-based evaluation of climate change-induced biodiversity and habitat losses.
  • A network of precisely documented permanent plots, combined with a successively updated database will be handed down to coming generations of researchers.
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