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Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment


© shutterstock Katrina Leigh

A project of DIVERSITAS aiming at exploring and understanding mountain biodiversity


Why are mountains so rich in biodiversity?

Steep terrain and thermal gradients as well as the fragmentation of landscape make mountain ecosystems truly unique. Many organisms adapt and specialise in these high-altitude microhabitats, providing vital services for a functioning ecological system.

Mountain biodiversity is threatened by global changes, making mountain ecosystems among the most endangered landscapes in the world. Land use changes, such as overgrazing, complete abandonment and inappropriate land management threaten mountain biodiversity in the short term. On a longer time scale, global warming will reduce available land area for cold-adapted organisms, especially in isolated ranges where high alpine plants are often restricted to small summits.


The network: Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA)

GMBA documents and synthesises knowledge on mountain biodiversity and communicates these findings to international policy fora and interested institutions. It acts as a platform for international mountain biodiversity research, organises conferences and workshops and promotes participation in projects on mountain biodiversity. It has also developed internationally accepted research guidelines for specific fields and has published three synthesis books. At present, it has a network of about 500 researchers and policy makers who work in the field of mountain biodiversity on all major mountain regions of the world; more than 1000 members from over 70 countries are subscribers of its newsletter.

Visit the GMBA homepage


The data portal: Mountain Biodiversity Portal to GBIF data

A biological inventory of the world’s mountains does not yet exist, but data mining of existing archives of biodiversity offers new avenues to assess mountain biodiversity. In cooperation with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), GMBA made a Mountain portal to open access to biological information provided by GBIF. The portal allows searches for geo-referenced species records of mountain organisms. Seven life zones in mountains defined by topography and climate facilitate large-scale (global) comparisons of biodiversity information. This electronic portal is designed as a tool for conservationists and managers of mountain areas, as well as for the global change research community.

Visit the Mountain Biodiversity Portal

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