Plant and arthropod colonisation of a glacier foreland in a peripheral mountain range

Primary successions along glacier forelands are perfect examples of the changing climate upon high mountain ecosystems. Peripheral mountain ranges deserve particular attention, given they are characterised by high numbers of species and endemism and are considered to be particularly susceptible to climate change. We analysed thermal regime, soil parameters and plant/arthropod primary succession along a glacier foreland located in such a context, comparing it with those previously studied in the inner Alps. The overall patterns of the investigated primary succession agree with those of the inner Alps at the same elevation, but stands out for a delayed plant and arthropod colonisation which promotes the long-lasting persistence of pioneer cold-adapted species. In light of the results obtained, and considering the glaciological features of peripheral mountain ranges (glaciers persistence at low elevation), this paper asserts the hypothesis that glacial landforms of these areas may act as warm-stage refugia for pioneer cold-adapted species.