Trade-offs in High Mountain Conservation

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6 Citations (Scopus)


2017, The Author(s). High mountain ecosystems present features that determine their conservation: isolation, harsh environmental conditions and steep gradients. The vulnerability of ecological systems to disruptive agents can be addressed by considering exposure to these agents and the sensitivity of the system. Conservation management usually offsets trade-offs of resources allocated to minimise exposure with strategies designed to reduce sensitivity. Although exposure to human action may be reduced in high mountains by isolation, this effect is offset by disruptive agents operating at global or regional scales, such as pollution and climate change. In the long term, climate change can be expected to have a strong impact on alpine habitats, as the dispersal of their native species is severely constrained. Alternatively, high mountains may provide refuges for threatened species currently populating lower altitudes. When reducing exposure is not a feasible strategy, the alternative is to reduce sensitivity, which in high mountains would focus on improving connectivity, preserving habitat quality and controlling antagonistic interactions such as grazing. Lowering vulnerability to climate change requires interventions in various contributing drivers. Cost-effective models make help to optimise the outcome of different goals subject to trade-offs, and they can also be useful for allocating alternative actions over time. The application of ecological trade-off concepts helps to frame conservation from a functional perspective. This approach should also take into account the fact that the functional properties of ecological entities are multifactorial and interactive. This concept is recognised in ecosystem services that present negative correlations—trade-offs—as well as positive ones—synergies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Global Change Research
Place of Publication(CH)
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)2215-1621
ISBN (Print)1574-0919
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017

Publication series

NameAdvances in Global Change Research


  • Climate change
  • Conservation
  • Ecosystem management
  • Ecosystem services
  • Exposure
  • High mountain
  • Sensitivity
  • Trade-off


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