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Species interactions in a warming world: Revealing glacier retreat impact on alpine-arctic pollination networks

Nora Meriem Khelidj


Université de Lausanne - UNIL

Lay summary

We are amidst two interconnected crises: climate change and biodiversity loss. An iconic symptom of global warming is the melting of ice caps and glaciers. Today, we have consolidated and robust evidence on the drivers of glacier loss and their impact on geophysical systems. However, little is known about the consequence of glacier loss for the biosphere. Understanding the fate of biodiversity in a warming, ice-free world is of paramount importance to the health and stability of socio-ecological systems.

Following glacier retreat, new lands are open for colonisation by living organisms, including plants and insects. An increasing number of studies address the colonisation of organisms following the retreat. However, those studies are missing important elements which are biotic interactions and ecological networks. For this research, we want to focus on a specific network: plant-pollinator interactions.

We have started to assess the pollination network in the Swiss Alps. We would like to expand it to Arctic ecosystems. To address the effects of climate change and particularly glacier retreat on pollination networks, we will perform a transect along a gradient of vegetation development and a latitudinal gradient along the southwestern coast of Greenland. This project has two main objectives: firstly, we want to get a broader picture and generalise the extent of the impact glacier retreat has on pollination networks. Secondly, we want to compare and address nuances between Alpine and Arctic systems.


Regional focus Arctic
Location Greenland
Funded amount 16,946 CHF
Project dates 1st June 2024 – 31st August 2024
Category Polar Access Fund
dynamic vegetation/ecosystem models, pollinator species, Biodiversity Conservation, Ecosystem Processes, biodiversity change, ecological networks, colonisation