Resurvey of 1802 Humboldt data featured in NPR Science Friday

Research by postdoc Naia Morueta-Holme from the Ackerly lab showing strong upslope shifts in plant distributions 210 years after Alexander von Humboldt is featured on NPR Science Friday as part of a story on a newly published Humboldt biography.

In 1802, Humboldt mapped the distribution of plant species along the elevation gradient of Mt. Chimborazo in Ecuador and the surrounding Andes mountains. In order to test whether plants have shifted in response to climate change, Naia Morueta-Holme lead an expedition to resurvey Chimborazo in 2012, 210 years after Humboldt’s visit. The resurvey involved climbing the mountain to 5,200 meters (17,000 feet). The results found by Naia and her co-authors (including former IB undergrad R. Max Segnitz) were published on Humboldt’s birthday last week in PNAS. They found that plants have strongly shifted upwards by 500 meters in elevation, primarily due to the warmer temperatures, but also due to land use changes at lower elevations of the mountain.


Read the PNAS publication