Pastures and meadows are a typical and characteristic habitat for the European Alps. They provide important economic and ecological value. Besides the economic value as production site for cattle or diary fodder, these ecosystems also provide important ecological services such as ground water protection, soil erosion control and maintenance of biodiversity. The continuous agricultural use of these regions in the past has formed and in the future will preserve these semi-natural ecosystems.
However, these ecosystems are exposed to drastic global changes, especially climate and land-use changes. Annual mean temperature is predicted to rise and this trend is expected to be most severe in high altitudes. Additional, precipitation will decrease in mountain regions especially during the growing season. Besides the change of long-term average temperature the intra- and interannual variability will increase. All of these climatic changes pressure montane ecosystems and also stakeholders by high ambiguity of their pastures seasonal economic output.
To ensure high yield quantity as well as quality we need to better understand the interplay between land-use regimes and climate change and their influence on the ecosystem services of montane grasslands. Especially the resistance and resilience of these ecosystems is going to be a key aspect in regard to the projected climatic changes.