ABSTRACT

Humans have been influencing highland biota around the world for millennia. Humans depend on in situ highland resources. The way they are used, however, also influences the well-being of lowlands, largely because the amount of clean water that can be delivered across long distances depends on catchment value. The functional integrity of highlands depends on stable soils, and these, in turn, depend on a stable plant cover. The long-term functioning and integrity of the mountains’ “green coat” depends on a multitude of plant functional types and their interaction with animals and microbes. The richer these biota, the more likely system integrity and functioning will be retained in the event of unprecedented impacts — the “insurance hypothesis” of biodiversity (Yachi and Loreau, 1999; for mountain biodiversity, Körner and Spehn, 2002; Körner, 2004).