CIE Seminar Series – 2019: Faster, taller, more – patterns and drivers of plant community change on high-alpine mountain summits

SPEAKER: Dr Sonja Wipf, WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, Switzerland

DATE: Friday, 22nd March 2019

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre

(Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – room ka4.207 and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.19 (Fishbowl)

External visitors – wish to join us and connect to our seminars?
External parties may connect to the live seminar via *N SEBE VMP LES Seminars [ID.36958] via the methods listed below:

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Climate warming is one of the most prominent driver of community change in regions relatively unaffected by direct human impact. The largely pristine high altitude and high latitude regions of the N hemisphere are warming at much higher rates than the global average.

To investigate how and at which rates global changes affected European high-altitude plant communities over the past century, we assembled a long-term (>100 years) dataset of plant community re-surveys on over 300 European mountain summits. I will present how high-alpine plant communities changed in richness and functional composition, which types of species are prone to local extinctions, and how changes relate to different climate change drivers.


Due to the narrow climatic constraints, the strong environmental gradients and the relative naturalness, alpine and arctic ecosystems have been a major playground for generations of researchers. My research deals with the impacts of climate change, agriculture and tourism on alpine and arctic plants and soils, and the interaction between the two.


since 2017: Senior Researcher (currently 50%), team “Mountain Ecosystems” at WSL/SLF Davos

since 2010: Research associate, team “Mountain Ecosystems” at WSL/SLF Davos

2008-2010: PostDoc (75%), Soil Biogeochemistry Group, WSL Birmensdorf

2007-2008: PostDoc, The James Hutton Institute (former Macaulay Institute), Aberdeen, Scotland UK

Appointments with speaker may be made via Susanna Venn (

For more info: