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qClimate of the Italian Alps
qGeomorphology of the Italian Alps
qForest and Biodiversity
qGlimpses of BD (Floral/Faunal/Habitat)
qHabitat/Vegetation Types
qDeterministic Factors
qItalian Alps: BD status
qEuropean alpine:
ØOne of the most important biogeographic regions;
Øwell-known by its rare habitat types; global
and water resources;
ØExtends out from the Mediterranean to the Western
Siberia through Norway, Russia, Sweden, Austria,
Italy and other European Countries
ØExtends on a land area of 780 000 sq. km
Introduction Cont’d

q Generally, the Alps are divided into

the Western and Eastern Alps
q The higher Western Alps are located
in Italy, France and Switzerland
q The Western Alps have a curved
central chain and is shorter than the
Eastern Counterpart
q The Eastern Alps have a main ridge
which is long and broad. They are
situated in the Countries of: Italy;
Austria; Germany; Liechtenstein;
Slovenia; Switzerland
Introduction Cont’d
q Basically, the Alps form
part of the Eight(8)
mountains of European
Ø cover an area of 180, 000 from the
Mediterranean Sea to the
Vienna basin
Ø House about 13 million
Ø Italian Alps as part
contains about 27% of the
Alpine territory (EURAC,
Introduction Cont’d

q Human induced impacts on the Alpine

q Limited productive capacity of the Alpine
q Effective maintenance of ecological
integrity of the region requires:
Ø reorientation of management approach and;

Ø modification of existing land use systems

Climate of the Italian
q Continental mountain climate
q Lower temperatures and higher
rainfall in East than in West
q Winter is bitterly cold and driest
q Climate in the South is
q Highly variable spatial distribution of
q Altitude affects rainfall distribution
q Rainfall more prevalent in N-E part
of Alps (Frei and Sch¨ar, 1998)
Source: Pickatrail
Climate of the Italian Alps
q Highest precipitation (~
1500mm) at Bellunesi pre alps
and Asiago plateau

q Temperature regime is
dependent on altitude

q Temperature averages
between 0°C and 3°C above

q ~3°C and 10°C below the

mountains and valleys
Geomorphology of the Italian
q Alps
Two different kinds of Geological environment:
Ø Acid Metamorphic Rocks (Phillite, Schists)
Ø Calcareous Rocks
q Western Alps exhibit both Metamorphic and igneous
rocks characteristics
q Eastern and Central region exhibit Tertiary limestone
and Mesozoic dolomite
Geomorphology of Italian Alps
q Cryosols comprise mineral soils formed in a permafrost

In the presence of water, it occurs primarily in the form of


q Leptosols are very shallow soils over continuous rock and

soils that are extremely gravelly and/or stony

q Regosols are very weakly developed mineral soils in

unconsolidated materials that do not have a mollic or umbric
horizon. Neither very shallow nor very rich in gravels , sandy
nor with fluvic materials

q Cambisols are moderately developed soils due to slight

weathering of the parent material in the absence of
Geomorphology of Italian Alps
q Podzols are characterized by a horizon in which iron (and
aluminium) or organic matter, or both have accumulated
q Umbrisols are soils in which organic matter has accumulated
within the mineral surface soil to the extent that it significantly
affects the behaviour and utilization of the soil
q Histosols comprise soils formed in organic material. Commonly
referred to as Peat soils . Found at all altitudes, but the vast
majority occurs in lowlands
q Fluvisols are genetically young, azonal soils in alluvial deposits.
Not confined only to river sediments but also occur in lacustrine
and marine deposits
q Phaeozems accommodate soils of relatively wet grassland and
forest regions in moderately continental climates. Leached more
Geomorphology of Italian Alps
q Dolomite landscape varies
geologically from other The Dolomite
q Landscape developed on
coral ledge and shaped by
q Rocks and Prongs emerge
from talus slopes
q Covered by forest,
pastureland and group of The Dolomite
isolated massifs
q Significant width of the
strata and their horizontal
disposition (typical feature)
q Distinctive erodibility to
agents and water courses
Geomorphology Cont’d
q Dolomite areas are covered by forests for over 50 per cent
q These areas are protected and declared as parks such as:

Regional Park of National park of the Dolomites

Paneveggio Bellunesi

Regional park of Dolomites Regional park Dolomites of

of Sesto Friulane
Forest and
Vascu lar Pl ants -
4500 sp ecies

Ende mic : 400 sp ps

Maj or En demic Ge nera:

Campa nula , Drab a, Ped ic ula ris , Prim ula …….

High Non vasc ul ar plan t di ver si ty

Examples: Moss es: 800 sp ps, Liver wo r ts: 30 0

sp ps
Lic he ns: 2500 spp s and Fungi > 5000 sp ps

Hotsp ot: Sout h of Mai n Ridge; fri nge of Alps

Faunal Biodiversity
•80 species: e.g. bats, shrews, mice and
moles main
•Genetic sub speciation, but no
endemism in strict sense
•Large Carnivores: Brown Bear, Wolf
and Lynx: Under Pressure
•Large Herbivores: red deer, roe deer,
chamois, ibex: rel. abund.

•Breeding Birds: 200 spps
•Migrating Birds: 200
•Above 2000m, breeding bird: 50 spps
•No endemism; but sub speciation
Faunal Biodiversity
Reptiles and Amphibians/others
• Amphibian: 21 spps; Reptiles: 25
• Fishes: 80 Spps
• 20 times higher invertebrate biodiversity
• Examples: Butterflies: 2549, Spiders: 609,

Habitat Biodiversity
•Recor ded numb er of Hab ita ts typ es: 200
•Main Categor ies: For est , He ath/ shru bland , Gr as sl an d, Ni val and
Roc k an d
Aquat ic Habita t
Examples of Different Habitat
Altitudinal Succession of the Habitat/Vegetation
Types in the Alps
Two Main Deterministic Factors of Biodiversity in
the Alps
1. Altitudinal Gradient and Microclimatic

qTemperature Lapse Rate: Every 100m =Every

1000km North =0.55K (Summer: 0.7K/ Winter: 0.44K)
in the Alpine Region

qThe growth form is transformed accordingly with the

lapse of temperature,
2.Complex and changed microclimatic

qPre Alps or Inner Alps (Calcareous)

qInner Alps: (Relatively Dry and Siliceous)
qThis difference in geographic structure: distribution of
Biodiversity of Italian Alps

§3264 species of flowering plants, 50% of whole in Italy

§Centre of Speciation in Alpine Biogeography: More

than 1/5th of flowering plants are endemic

§Leading Genera: Carex (55 species), Saxifraga (41),

Gentiana (25), and Primula (19)

§Home for Rarest Plants: Saxifraga florulenta (maritime

Alps), Sanguisorba dodecandra (valtellina), Linaria Tonziggi
(Monte Arera), Daphne Petraea (Monte Tremalzo), and
Rhizobotrya alpine

§Brop hyt es: 1032 sp eci es (8 1 .7% of Ita ly), 439 sp ps above
tr eeline , 2 end emi c i.e. Ra dula vis ia ni ca and Ric ia breid ler i
Biodiversity of Italian Alps
Mammals: Deer (Cervus elaphus), fox (Vulpes vulpes),
badger (Meles meles), chamois (Rupicarpa rupicarpa), lynx
(Lynx lynx), bear (Ursus arctos) Marmot (Marmota marmot),
red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Ermine (Mustela ermine and vipers
(vipera species);

Birds: Grouse (Tetrao urogallus), Mountain francolin

(Tetrastes bonasia), Greek partridge (Alectoris graeca), Golden
eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) and

Reptiles: Alpine salamander (Salamandra atra) and different

species of snakes (Coluber viridiflavus, Elaphe longissima) and
Anthropological Factors:
Ø100 million Tourists Every Year;
Ø50 billion US dollars received as revenues
from tourist
Ø12% of the world’s tourist visit this

qLand use Change: Intensive Farming, shift

in land use reported;

qAlpine Convention (1995, 1999)

qPromulgation of Environmental
Policies by states: e.g.:
ØThe Alps isn:
of vital importance because of its unique
geomorphological characteristics and inhabited
ØAlthough, the tourist based income has increased the
revenue level; sustainability needs to be a matter of
ØAttempts made are noticeable, however, the pace
needs to be increased to cope with the changing
bioclimatic indicators of the region
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