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Mountain plant communities: Uncertain sentinels?

April 29, 2019

Mountain plant communities are thought to be sensitive to climate change and thus able to reveal its effects sooner than others. Two plant communities examined here, alpine treeline ecotones and alpine tundra, have been observed to respond to climate change in recent decades. Treeline has moved upslope and alpine tundra communities have had some species increase and others decrease. The response for both, however, has been inconsistent if taken as a whole. Problematic factors for this response are outlined for both: abiotic and biotic interactions partially decouple the plant communities from climate. Differences across spatial and temporal scales complicate interpretation. Partial decoupling leads to nonlinear responses and difficulties for prediction and for planning mitigation.

Publication Year 2019
Title Mountain plant communities: Uncertain sentinels?
DOI 10.1177/0309133319843873
Authors George P. Malanson, Lynn M Resler, Daniel B. Fagre, David R Butler
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment
Index ID 70209453
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center