Global warming and vulnerability assessment of plant distribution in Korea

Sle-Gee LEE, Woo-Seok KONG & Hee-Na PARK
Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea

Due to the recent rapid global warming trend in Korea, the survival and migration of many plants in slow motion or in a hostile environment will be hindered in the future. Plants, which are vulnerable to global warming, include species with their distribution confined to alpine and subalpine belts, species with a narrow distribution, species at their range limit, species growing in small islands, species sensitive to climate change, and species with slow migration rates. With temperature rising, the cold-loving alpine plants of Korea, which belong to relict species of Last Glacial Maximum, are again forced to move upward or northward. Survival of high mountain plant species, however, will be resolved when two conditions are met; first, an availability of cool micro-climate at high mountain tops, secondly, accessibility and connectivity of mountain peaks which enable plants to migrate towards new habitats, thirdly, species need to be able to outcomplete new contenders, and finally be able to overcome new environmental conditions. Projected distribution of cold-loving plant species in Korea with climatic amelioration rates, +0.3, 0.5, 0.9 and 1.2 degrees shows that many alpine plants, especially species at Hallasan (1 950 m a.s.l.), Jeju Island and Baekdoosan or Mt. Baekdoo (2 744 m a.s.l.) in D.P.R.K. or North Korea will be in danger at their current locations. This study is supported by the Korea National Arboretum.

© 2012 Organizing Committee