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This photo shows the Bure summit located in the Dvoluy range of the French Alps. Faced with global warming, plants are heading for the hills. A study of 171 forest species in Western Europe shows that most of them are shifting their favoured locations to higher, cooler locations. ((Science/Associated Press))

Temperatures aren't the only thing rising as a result of climate change; researchers say plants are creeping to higher elevations in order to survive global warming.

More than two thirds of the plants in six western European mountain ranges have climbed an average of 29 metres in altitude each decade since 1905, according to a study published in the Friday issue of the journal Science.

Researchers from AgroParisTech in France said the shift to higher altitudes is even larger for those plant species restricted to mountain habitats.

"If all of these species moved in the same way, this is interesting to see and to analyze and it was significant enough to be considered a movement in relation to climate warming," said lead researcher Jonathan Lenoir in an interview podcast by Science.

Plants move by dispersing their seeds in the wind, blowing them to different locations. The study findings suggest the altitude where those seeds might thrive has changed as temperatures in those regions have changed.

Previous studies have found evidence of plant species migration along latitudinal and longitudinal lines as a result of climate change. A study published this week in the journal Public Library of Science-ONE found some of California's native plants could lose more than 80 per cent of their range by the end of the century.

But this is the first study to provide evidence that plants are also finding rising temperatures are causing plants to have better luck propagating at higher elevations.

The group looked at the distribution of 171 common forest plant species along the entire elevation range of six mountain ranges in Europe — from 0 to 2,600 metres above sea level — between 1905 and 1985, and 1986 and 2005.