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Gradients, vegetation and climate: spatial and temporal dynamics in the Olympic Mountains, USA

January 1, 1997

The steep environmental gradients of mountains result in the juxtaposition of diverse vegetation associations with narrow ecotones because life zones are compressed. Variation in geologic substrate, landforms, and soils, in combination with steep environmental gradients, create habitat diversity across spatial scales from 106 ha to <10 m2. This leads to higher biodiversity in a smaller space than in landscapes with less topographic variation. Mountains are often considered to be refuges for biological diversity at the regional scale, although variation in landscape features creates refuges at a fine scale as well. Mountains should also be considered a source of biological diversity, because they provide the germplasm for migration into lowland areas following glacial recession. Many taxa are distributed over a broad range of elevations and habitats, which maximizes the potential to respond to environmental perturbations. Reorganization of species distribution and abundance as a result of climatic change may be impacted considerably by human-caused fragmentation of landscape features, especially at lower elevations. This paper uses palaeoecological and biogeographical data to investigate the spatial and temporal vegetation dynamics of a steep maritime range, the Olympic Mountains (USA). The role of resource management in protecting vegetation in a fragmented landscape is discussed, with emphasis on how to address uncertainties such as climatic change.

Publication Year 1997
Title Gradients, vegetation and climate: spatial and temporal dynamics in the Olympic Mountains, USA
DOI 10.2307/2997523
Authors David L. Peterson, Edward G. Schreiner, Nelsa M. Buckingham
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Global Ecology and Biogeography Letters
Index ID 70194231
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center