Ch. Körner - Alpine Plant Life

Christian Körner
Alpine Plant Life - Functional Plant Ecology of High Mountain Ecosystems

1. ed. 1999, 2. ed. 2003
XI, 344 p. 218 illus. and 4 color plates with 32 photos
Springer, Heidelberg
ISBN 3-540-00347-9
EUR 54.95, £ 39.-
Alpine Plant Life has been translated into
Chinese, Science Press, Beijing, 2008
Georgian, Ilia Chavchavadze State University Publishing, Tbilisi
Generations of plant scientists have been fascinated by alpine plant life - with the exposure of organisms to dramatic climatic gradients over a very short distance.
This comprehensive text treats a wide range of topics: alpine climate and soils, plant distribution and the treeline phenomenon, physiological ecology of water-, nutritional- and carbon relations of alpine plants, plant stress and plant development, biomass production, aspects of reproductive biology, and human impacts on alpine vegetation. Geographically the book covers all parts of the world including the tropics.
This new edition of Alpine Plant Life has been fully updated. It now includes over a hundred new references, new diagrams, revised and extended chapters, and a geographic index.

From the reviews of the first edition

«This book should be required reading for all ecologists and ecology students. Modern treatment of alpine ecology and the inclusion of tropics and good treatment of tropical alpine environments makes this book unique. ...the best modern treatment of "functional ecology" of alpine plants. Both the author and the publisher should be commended for this book.»(Botanical Electronic News)
«For anyone interested in alpine plant ecology (or ecophysiology) this book is a must, being encyclopaedic in both scope and information content. Though it deals with potentially complex topics, the book has been organised carefully and logically, and the topics are treated with a simple yet elegant writing style which exudes the author's enthusiasm and fascination. It was a delight to read, like a good novel that one is reluctant to set down. ... a most impressive and comprehensive, up-to-the-minute book by undoubtedly the world's foremost alpine plant ecologist and ecophysiologist.» (New Zealand Journal of Ecology)
«The structure of the book and the approach in presenting information make it easy to read. Highlighted information throughout the chapters and summaries at the end of each chapter assist readers in recapturing important information. Color plates included at the end of the book serve as a good summary of the book's contents. ... provides the most up-to-date information about the ecology of plants at high altitudes.» (Mountain Research and Development)


1 Plant ecology at high elevations

The concept of limitation
A regional and historical account
The challenge of alpine plant research

2 The alpine life zone

Altitudinal boundaries
Global alpine land area
Alpine plant diversity
Origin of alpine floras
Alpine growth forms

3 Alpine climate

Which alpine climate?
Common features of alpine climates
Regional features of alpine climates

4 The climate plants experience

Interactions of relief,wind and sun
How alpine plants influence their climate

5 Life under snow:protection and limitation

Temperatures under snow
Solar radiation under snow
Gas concentrations under snow
Plant responses to snowpack

6 Alpine soils

Physics of alpine soil formation
The organic compound
The interaction of organic and inorganic compounds

7 Alpine treelines

About trees and lines
Current altitudinal positions of climatic treelines
Treeline-climate relationships
Intrazonal variations and pantropical plateauing of alpine treelines
Treelines in the past
Attempts at a functional explanation of treelines
A hypothesis for treeline formation
Growth trends near treelines

8 Climatic stress

Survival of low temperature extremes
Avoidance and tolerance of low temperature extremes
Heat stress in alpine plants
Ultraviolet radiation – a stress factor?

9 Water relations

Ecosystem water balance
Soil moisture at high altitudes
Plant water relations:a briefreview of principles
Water relations of alpine plants
Desiccation stress
Water relations of special plant types

10 Mineral nutrition

Soil nutrients
The nutritional status of alpine plants
Nutrient cycling and nutrient budgets
Nitrogen fixation
Responses of vegetation to variable nutrient supply

11 Uptake and loss of carbon

Photosynthetic capacity of alpine plants
Photosynthetic responses to the environment
Daily carbon gain of leaves
The seasonal carbon gain of leaves
Cand CAM photosynthesis at high altitudes
Tissue respiration of alpine plants
Ecosystem carbon balance

12 Carbon investments

Non-structural carbohydrates
Lipids and energy content
Carbon costs of leaves and roots
Whole plant carbon allocation

13 Growth dynamics

Seasonal growth
Rates of plant dry matter accumulation
Functional duration of leaves and roots

14 Cell division and tissue formation

Cell size and plant size
Mitosis and the cell cycle
From meristem activity to growth control

15 Plant biomass production

The structure of alpine plant canopies
Primary productivity of alpine vegetation
Plant dry matter pools
Biomass losses through herbivores

16 Plant reproduction

Flowering and pollination
Seed development and seed size
Alpine seed banks and natural recruitment
Clonal propagation
Alpine plant age

17 Global change at high elevation

Alpine land use
The impact of altered atmospheric chemistry
Climatic change and alpine ecosystems