Project overview: Preserve alpine plant communities by documenting the specific impacts of climate change and other factors on flora persistence and migration at a variety of Sierra sites.

How your support helps: Climate models predict that some alpine plant communities, such as those found at high elevations in Yosemite, will largely be gone within the century. Therefore, scientists are urgently exploring proactive climate-adaptive strategies in the hopes that effective management can save these vulnerable, valuable plants. 

This work will complement the park’s efforts to protect alpine plants from climate change by exploring how alpine plant communities in Yosemite have been affected by climate change in the past three decades and how the glacial history of an alpine habitat, which can cause differences in soil development and topography, affects the persistence of existing plants or the establishment of migrant species at various sites in the park. 

Ultimately, this project aims to help inform adaptive management strategies to preserve alpine plant communities threatened by climate change, such as rerouting trails away from sensitive areas or seed saving to conserve vulnerable plant populations. 

This year: Funding in 2024 supports the final year of resampling Natural Resource Inventory plots for the first time in 30 years to document how the changing climate has affected alpine plants in Yosemite and share that information with the public. The project will also set up new monitoring transects that will be more sensitive to detecting change and map informal trail proliferation in alpine areas of concern.

Project partners: Yosemite National Park, California Native Plant Society, and California Polytechnic State University

Kimiora Ward

Vegetation and Ecological Restoration, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Climate models predict that some alpine plant communities will largely be gone within the century, making the need for proactive climate-adaptive management strategies for alpine species increasingly urgent...This project will complement the park's efforts to protect alpine plants under [stress from] climate change."