The GLORIA network
consists of targets regions, each with usually four summit sites. Target regions are distributed over six continents. All summit sites of a target region are located in the same mountain range, have similar bedrock conditions, but different elevations. Summit areas down to the 10m-contourline from each summit’s highest point are monitored along the criteria of the Multi-Summit approach. In addition, several GLORIA Master Sites were established in different mountain systems, building on existing research facilities.
The global distribution
of GLORIA target regions allows for the simultaneous study of climate-induced impacts on cold-determined ecosystems over all major biomes from tropical to polar climate zones. The globally distributed alpine life zone, thus, provides a unique opportunity for a comparative world-wide assessment of the ecological impacts on the biosphere and its biodiversity, provided that sites are situated in natural or near-natural environments.
A feasible, cost-efficient recording strategy
The GLORIA Multi-Summit approach was designed as a widely applicable monitoring approach, targeting on low-stature vegetation above the low-temperature treeline in any high mountain environment. The observation sites are summits, arranged along an elevation gradient. The sequence of summit sites represents readily identifiable points along the climatic gradient from the treeline to the upper limits of plant life, which usually captures the typical vegetation types and species that occur along the elevation/thermal gradient. The Multi-Summit approach can be applied on a low-cost basis, so that remote mountain areas also can be included. Although time needed for setup and vegetation recording strongly varies in dependence of species richness, vegetation cover/ structure, and accessibility, it should be accomplishable for a four-person team within 12 to 25 working days for the basic Multi-Summit approach. Further, resurveys are only required at intervals of 5 to 10 years.
The GLORIA network - how it operates
The network's contributors
The strength of GLORIA is its simple approach which enables the establishment of a large number of sites, which is required for comparisons of changes in species compositions and abundance across biomes and continents. The implementation and long-term maintenance of such a large-scale multi-site network requires many committed ecologists. Thanks to the efforts of a world-wide community of researchers, baselines at GLORIA sites are now established on six continents. Resurveys at intervals of 5 to 10 years will yield growing time series of biodiversity change. Repeated surveys were already undertaken at many of the sites and new sites are to be established in the remaining underrepresented mountain systems. The GLORIA programme constitutes an ongoing procedure of resurveys, network expansion and further development. GLORIA is an open process so that individuals and institutions with an interest in ecological and biodiversity research in alpine environments are welcome to join in and contribute by establishing long-term observation sites (see the guidelines for establishing new target regions). Even though GLORIA surveys can be done on a low-cost basis, funding is required, especially for the often demanding fieldwork, where both specific expertise on the flora and experience in alpine environment are required. GLORIA site managers are responsible for the establishment and maintenance of sites (using the standardised GLORIA protocols).
Property rights of data
Data are entered into the central GLORIA database, where the data provider retains the exclusive ownership of the data. The use of a full dataset or of parts of it by interested parties (including the GLORIA coordination office) requires the data provider's permission including issues about authorship of resulting publications.
Tools and protocols for handling different options of data sharing are currently in elaboration.
An effective network must be integrated into international structures for global change research. GLORIA contributes to and/or cooperates with a number of national and international organisations, programmes and initiatives, to facilitate an interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge, to foster the translation of scientific findings into environmental policy, and to offer data-based explanations on the ecological implications of climate change to a growing audience of non-expert users and to the public.