How do some mountains have an ecosystem around the peak? Wouldn’t the nutrients from the soil of any wash down and make it difficult?


How do some mountains have an ecosystem around the peak? Wouldn’t the nutrients from the soil of any wash down and make it difficult?

In: 29

I’m not a biologist or any other type of scientist, but I do know that life evolves to survive in the environment it finds itself in. So as the earth changed, mountains rose out of the seas and the life forms that could survive and reproduce in that environment did so. Species that could not live on the available nutrients or water did not survive. If any of these high elevation species would be taken to a sea-level environment, they would most likely not survive and reproduce. In order to survive, certain critical elements need to be controlled. It’s the reason there are sun-loving plants and shade plants, moist soil plants, dry soil, etc. It all comes down to evolving to survive and reproduce in it’s current environment.

“Life, uh, life finds a way”

Extremophile bacteria can find ways to make energy/nutrients out of basically anything that’ll react, and lichen can survive on nothing more than air, water, sun, and minerals in the stone They can create soil conditions in pockets or depressions (where nutrients don’t wash out) suitable for alpine plants and insects. Once plants get established, their roots can help hold soil in place and prevent nutrient leaching.

What mountain(s) are you referring to? While you’re right that soils tends to be thin and patchy on steep slopes, many mountains are round enough, and covered in enough vegetation. That they retain a fair amount of soil on the top and sides.

In permanent ice and snow fields the nutrients come from pollen and dead arthropod fall out on the snow. Some photosynthesis occurs in algae within snow crust too (bringing in carbon from the air). These ‘aeolian nival’ communities are fascinating and bizarre. They have things like snow worms and carnivorous caterpillars.

In a more standard peak with vegetation, yes, some wash out occurs but low nitrogen/phosphorus communities exist everywhere. You get adaptation to low N/P levels. Tropical rainforest, much of Australia and bogs all have the same problem.

To some degree some leeching of P out of rocks may occur, and this will be taken up by any plant that can do so. N from animal decay / nitrogenous waste, plausibly from animals migrating up and down slopes annually, will help too (eg if goats pick up most of their nitrogen in winter at low climes, then move to high meadows and forests in summer they will carry nitrogen with them).

Source: lectured in biology for 10+ years.

Edit. Typos.

In a lot of places mountain peaks may be the only places that are not disturbed by human activity. It doesn’t mean that forests *prefer* to grow there.

Mountain peaks also often get more rainfal than other areas.