MOUNTAIN ECOSYSTEM - Characteristics, flora and fauna

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Mountain ecosystems provide basic environmental services such as energy, biodiversity, water and soil, but they are also essential not only for the development of the populations that inhabit them, but also for those populations and ecosystems that are found at lower altitudes.

If you want more information about the mountainous ecosystem: characteristics, flora and fauna, do not stop reading this interesting article by EcologyGreen.

What is the mountain ecosystem

The mountain ecosystem, like all ecosystems, is made up of a set of abiotic factors such as the soil, the water or the climate and why biotic factors, these being the living organisms that inhabit it. However, we refer to this specific type as a mountainous ecosystem because both factors develop in a mountainous relief where the determining factor is the altitude that will trigger the changes, especially the temperature.

If you are not clear about how an ecosystem works, we recommend you visit this other article before reading on.

Mountain ecosystem: characteristics

Temperature is a very changing factor in these ecosystems, since it is different depending on the altitude. Then, how is the climate in the mountain ecosystem? As the altitude increases, the temperature decreases, although not in all areas it decreases at the same altitude. In a temperate zone, for example, for every 155m of altitude the temperature will decrease by 1ºC, while in a tropical zone, for the temperature to decrease by 1ºC, 180 meters of altitude are needed (due to greater solar radiation). This variation in temperature with altitude is called vertical thermal gradient, also affected by the thickness of the atmosphere (cold and temperate zones are less thick and the tropics are thicker).

The decrease in temperature means that as the height increases, the trees cannot develop the same, which is why the forests are in the lower and middle areas of the mountains and in the high areas are the herbaceous and shrubs. This involves a great variety, as you can see in more detail in this article on Ecosystem diversity: what it is and examples.

Another characteristic to highlight is that the mountainous ecosystems are an obstacle for the warm and superficial air currents that are loaded with humidity, since when climbing the mountain they end up cooling. As a consequence, the humidity condenses and clouds form that end up generating precipitation.

It is also worth mentioning that mountain ecosystems receive more solar radiation, which has a negative effect on the tissues of living beings. That is why both plant and animal species need certain strategies to support it. For example, the hardness and size of the leaves of some plant species found in the highest areas of the mountain are a adaptation strategy.

In these ecosystems, gravity favors the runoff of water from rain, something essential for the living beings that inhabit said ecosystem. It is also worth noting the role that the orientation of the slope plays, since as there are two slopes with different orientations in a mountain, they receive the sun's radiation at different times of the day, thus influencing the variety of the existing flora.

Mountain ecosystem: flora

Now that you know the characteristics of this ecosystem, we will take a closer look at the flora and fauna of these spaces.

As we have mentioned previously, the vegetation of the mountainous ecosystem changes with increasing altitude, since the higher it is, the lower the temperature and the greater the solar radiation. In the lower areas of the mountain ecosystem we find forests of different types. For example, in temperate mountain ecosystems there are the coniferous forest, with species such as pine (Pinus spp.) and larchLarix decidua) Y deciduous forest, with angiosperm species such as beech (Fagus sylvatica), birch (Betula spp.) and oak (Quercus robur). In the highest areas of these ecosystems we find alpine tundra, with species such as grasses, rosaceae, lichens and mosses.

If we talk about tropical mountainous ecosystems, it should be noted that in the middle areas there are abundant the humid and cloudy jungles with tall trees like the spoon (Gyranthera caribensis) or the chickadee (Albizia carbonaria), while in the moor (higher altitude areas) cold grasslands predominate.

Mountain ecosystem: fauna

Finally, we can talk about the fauna that usually inhabit these ecosystems. Some of the mammalian species that inhabit temperate and cold mountain ecosystems are black bear (Ursus americanus), the wolf (Canis lupus), the Fox (Vulpes vulpes) Y The grizzly (Ursus arctos). There are also birds such as the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and grouse (Tetraus urogallus).

On the other hand, among the species that inhabit tropical mountainous ecosystems there is a great variety of insects, reptiles, small mammals Y birds. It should also be noted the presence of some felines such as the jaguar (Panthera onca), the Tiger (Panthera tigris) and the leopard (Pathera pardus).

If you want to discover more information about all the types of ecosystems that exist, be sure to visit this other article by EcologyGreen.

If you want to read more articles similar to Mountain ecosystem: characteristics, flora and fauna, we recommend that you enter our Ecosystems category.

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