Management, winter climate and plant–soil feedbacks on ski slopes: a synthesis

M.P. Meijer zu Schlochtern, C. Rixen, S Wipf, J.H.C. Cornelissen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Owing to the increasing popularity of skiing and the upslope movement of the snow reliability line in mountain regions, more and more alpine environments are being turned into skiing areas, with strong impacts on ecosystem functions and biodiversity. Creation and management of ski slopes cause physical disturbance to soil and vegetation, while (artificial) snow supplements affect soil structure, chemistry, moisture and temperature regimes as well as shifts in snow season and growing season length. Vegetation-soil feedbacks may influence the outcome of these interactive effects on soil and vegetation, with possible consequences for soil erosion. Moreover, climate warming will lead to changing snow cover and duration, which will interact with ski slope management effects on soil and vegetation and its feedbacks. Based on a conceptual framework we review the main elements of these interactive effects on soil and vegetation on new and established ski slopes. We also set a research agenda with specific studies that could further advance our understanding of interacting ski slope management, winter climate, vegetation-soil feedbacks and ecosystem functioning. In such new investigations, alpine climate change ecology can probably learn much from the "experimental" disturbance and snow manipulations on ski slopes and vice versa. © 2014 The Ecological Society of Japan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-592
JournalEcological Research
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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