Habitat-Mountains and hills Montane habitat

The temperature falls by an average of 0.5C for each 100 metres of altitude, so a 1000m peak is about 5 degrees C colder than nearby sea level.

Thus the habitat varies greatly from mountain pastures and the foot slopes, changing with height up to the peaks. The seasons are also much more defined with spring occurring later in the uplands and even in mid summer moist clouds are carried on westerly winds that rise over the tops to release its content, heavy rain, on to the peaks, this often occurs without any prior warning.

There is no defining height { in the UK } at which a hill becomes a mountain. Hills are generally rounded at the summit, while mountains should rise to a salient peak. Here in Britain 600m above sea level is generally recognised as a mountain, or as low as 300m if the peak rises abruptly from surrounding lowlands.

Because the habitat is unique many of the Montane fauna and flora are also unique. The flora for instance are often in low creeping or cushion forming in nature to avoid damage from strong winds, frost and ice.

One of the last trees to occur as the altitude increases { referred to as the tree line} is the Rowan tree hence it is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the mountain ash. The Rowan is in no way related to the ash tree which belongs to the Olive family while the Rowan belongs to the Rose family. 

The Rowan tree coming into flower. It is one of the last trees one will encounter at higher altitudes.

Photograph by Dal

Species that may be encountered in the various altitude habitats

Below is a list of species that one may encounter in the diverse habitat ranges from the mountain pasture well up into the peaks.


Gate keeper  may be encountered up to 750m

Small heath---------------Coenonympha pamphilus--Up to 2000m

Large heath---------------Coenonympha tullia--        Up to 2000m

Wall brown----------------Parage megera                 Up to 2000m

Meadow brown ---------Miniola jurtina                   Up to 1500m

Northern brown argus-- Aricia artaxerxes             Up to 300m

Small tortoise shell---Nymphalis urtica               Lower slopes.



Navelwort-----------------------Umbilicus rupestris------------------Up to 2,500m

Yellow saxifrage  -----------Saxifraga aizoides -------------------Up to 3000m

Grass of Parnassus--------Parnassia palustris

Mountain avens--------------Dryas octopetala  { mountain heaths }

Alpine lady's mantle--------Alchemilla alpina

Red clover---------------------Trifolium pratense---------------------Up to 3000m

Wood crane'sbill-------------Geranium sylvaticum  ------------{ Mountain pastures }

Common rock rose---------Helianthemum nummularium----Up to 2,500m

Common winter green-----Pyrola minor 


Top---Cowberry Photograph courtesy of Bengt Oberger. Public Domain


Bearberry-------------------------Arcostaphyllus uva-ursi

Lily of the Valley---------------Convallaria majalis----{mountain meadows }

Stag's-horn club moss------Lycopodium clavatum

Bogbean--------------------------Menyanthes trifoliata

Bog asphodel-------------------Narthecium ossifragum


Mountain hare ----------------Lepus timidus

Red fox--------------------------Vulpes  vulpes

Weasel-------------------------Mustella nivalis

Stoat ---------------------------Mustella erminea


 The mountain hare in winter coat--Photograph courtesy of Erik CC BNY-SA 3.0 License








Buzzard--------------------------Buteo buteo

Golden Eagle { There is only one pair in north west England in Cumbria }

Kestrel---------------------------Falco tinnunculus

Dotteral-------------------------Charadrius morinellus { rolling mountain tops }

Purple sandpiper------------Calidris maritima

Rock dove--------------------- Columba livia  

Shore lark---------------------Eremophila alpestris { breeds on  mountains }

Raven --------------------------Corvus corax

Twite---------------------------Carduellis flavirostris

Snow bunting---------------Plectro phenax nivalis         { winter } 

The snow bunting on a winter mountain. Courtesy of Graham Racher {UK}  CC BY-SA 2.0 License.


As previously mentioned the habitat is diverse and the above account is just to give an overall view of what species may be encountered. Many of the species already have pages of their own on this website. {see associated pages below}.


Thank you for visiting.