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Andrea Dixon Winter Ecology Spring 2009 Silene acaulis Geum rossii Mountain Research Station, University of Colorado, Boulder.

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Presentation on theme: "Andrea Dixon Winter Ecology Spring 2009 Silene acaulis Geum rossii Mountain Research Station, University of Colorado, Boulder."— Presentation transcript:

1 Andrea Dixon Winter Ecology Spring 2009 Silene acaulis Geum rossii Mountain Research Station, University of Colorado, Boulder

2 Does differential snowpack affect alpine plant community composition?

3 1. Snowpack varies across the landscape due to local variables such as topography, wind and climatic factors 2. Snowmelt is controlled by the quality of snow, the thickness of the snowpack, air temperatures and solar radiation 3. Snowpack, and thus snowmelt, affects growing season length 1. Snowpack varies across the landscape due to local variables such as topography, wind and climatic factors 2. Snowmelt is controlled by the quality of snow, the thickness of the snowpack, air temperatures and solar radiation 3. Snowpack, and thus snowmelt, affects growing season length Photo: Williams, et al.

4 LESS SNOWPACK = LONGER GROWING SEASON Focus on 2 studies: RESPONSES OF SNOWBED PLANT-SPECIES TO CHANGES IN GROWING-SEASON LENGTH (Galen & Stanton, 995) SMALL-SCALE PLANT SPECIES DISTRIBUTION IN SNOWBEDS AND ITS SENSITIVITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE (Schob, et al. 2009)

5 RESPONSES OF SNOWBED PLANT-SPECIES TO CHANGES IN GROWING-SEASON LENGTH (GALEN & STANTON, 995) Leaf expansion occurs at snowmelt - w/in 3 days Leaf expansion occurs at snowmelt -w/in 6days Leaf expansion occurs at snowmelt -w/in 9 days These 2 plants had a 2-3 fold increase in cover with long growing seasons. These plants also have longer periods of shoot growth.

6 RESPONSES OF SNOWBED PLANT-SPECIES TO CHANGES IN GROWING-SEASON LENGTH (GALEN & STANTON, 995) R. adoneus T. parryiG. rossii S. procumbens

7 SMALL-SCALE PLANT SPECIES DISTRIBUTION IN SNOWBEDS AND ITS SENSITIVITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE (SCHOB, ET AL. 2009) 5 Categories of Plants 1.Dominants (make up most of the vegetation) – Increased with later snowmelt dates 2.Subordinate species (making up less of the % cover than dominants): 2a. Indifferents to snowmelt dates – no change to later snowmelt dates 2b. Snowbed specialists – increased significantly with later snowmelt dates (delayed leaf expansion plants) 2c. Avoiders of late-snowmelt sites – significantly decreased with later snowmelt dates (immediate leaf expansion plants) 3. Transients – almost completely disappeared with later snowmelt dates 5 Categories of Plants 1.Dominants (make up most of the vegetation) – Increased with later snowmelt dates 2.Subordinate species (making up less of the % cover than dominants): 2a. Indifferents to snowmelt dates – no change to later snowmelt dates 2b. Snowbed specialists – increased significantly with later snowmelt dates (delayed leaf expansion plants) 2c. Avoiders of late-snowmelt sites – significantly decreased with later snowmelt dates (immediate leaf expansion plants) 3. Transients – almost completely disappeared with later snowmelt dates

8 SNOWMELT DATE

9 SMALL-SCALE PLANT SPECIES DISTRIBUTION IN SNOWBEDS AND ITS SENSITIVITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE (SCHOB, ET AL. 2009) Plant species richness was reduced by approximately 50% in snowbeds with late melt dates. Total cover by vascular species was not reduced- only the number of species making up the cover. Plant species richness was reduced by approximately 50% in snowbeds with late melt dates. Total cover by vascular species was not reduced- only the number of species making up the cover.

10 Plants have species specific responses to snowpack variation (Galen & Stanton, 1995) Longer growing season will lead to loss of species that area adapted to and thrive on a short growing season (late snowmelt) as their habitat disappears (Schob et al., 2008) Growing season length had a significant impact on the plants that have leaf growth that is synchronized with snowmelt (snowbed specialists) (Galen & Stanton, 1995) This becomes a disadvantage during years of late snowmelt (Galen & Stanton, 1995) Plants have species specific responses to snowpack variation (Galen & Stanton, 1995) Longer growing season will lead to loss of species that area adapted to and thrive on a short growing season (late snowmelt) as their habitat disappears (Schob et al., 2008) Growing season length had a significant impact on the plants that have leaf growth that is synchronized with snowmelt (snowbed specialists) (Galen & Stanton, 1995) This becomes a disadvantage during years of late snowmelt (Galen & Stanton, 1995)

11 If temps increase and snowmelt occurs earlier, plants that avoid late snowmelt sites will increase their area of cover, comprising a greater percentage of the cover species as their suitable habitat increases in area (Schob et al., 2008) Transient plants may increase in amount of cover, as well as number of overall species of transients with longer growing season- this needs more study (Schob et al., 2008) If temps increase and snowmelt occurs earlier, plants that avoid late snowmelt sites will increase their area of cover, comprising a greater percentage of the cover species as their suitable habitat increases in area (Schob et al., 2008) Transient plants may increase in amount of cover, as well as number of overall species of transients with longer growing season- this needs more study (Schob et al., 2008)

12 Galen, C. and M. L. Stanton, Responses of snowbed-plant species to changes in growing-season length. Ecology 76: Monson, R.K., D.L. Lipson, S.P. Burns, A.A. Turnipseed, A.C. Delaney, M.W. Williams and S.K. Schmidt, Winter forest soil respiration controlled by climate and microbial community composition. Nature 439: Raible, C.C., C Casty, J. Luterbacher, A. Pauling, J. Esper, D.C. Frank, U. Buntagen, A.C. Roesch, P Tschuck, M. Wild, P.L. Vidale and C Schar, Climate variability- observations, reconstructions and model simulations for the Antlantic-European and Alpine region from AD. Climate Change 79:9-29. Schob C., P.M. Kammer, P. Choler, H. Veit, Small-scale plant species distribution in snowbeds and its sensitivity to climate change. Plant Ecology 200: Seastedt, T.R. and L. Vacarro, Plant species richness, productivity, and nitrogen and phosphorus limitations across a snowpack gradient in Alpine Tundra, Colorado, USA. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 33: Galen, C. and M. L. Stanton, Responses of snowbed-plant species to changes in growing-season length. Ecology 76: Monson, R.K., D.L. Lipson, S.P. Burns, A.A. Turnipseed, A.C. Delaney, M.W. Williams and S.K. Schmidt, Winter forest soil respiration controlled by climate and microbial community composition. Nature 439: Raible, C.C., C Casty, J. Luterbacher, A. Pauling, J. Esper, D.C. Frank, U. Buntagen, A.C. Roesch, P Tschuck, M. Wild, P.L. Vidale and C Schar, Climate variability- observations, reconstructions and model simulations for the Antlantic-European and Alpine region from AD. Climate Change 79:9-29. Schob C., P.M. Kammer, P. Choler, H. Veit, Small-scale plant species distribution in snowbeds and its sensitivity to climate change. Plant Ecology 200: Seastedt, T.R. and L. Vacarro, Plant species richness, productivity, and nitrogen and phosphorus limitations across a snowpack gradient in Alpine Tundra, Colorado, USA. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 33:

13 Conclusion: Plants responses to snowpack (growing season length) are species specific based on their adaptations to the environment- such as how/when they begin leaf expansion Warming and cooling trends seen in the Alpine will lead to decreases in some plants and increases in others, which could lead to plant community compositions that are novel for the Alpine Conclusion: Plants responses to snowpack (growing season length) are species specific based on their adaptations to the environment- such as how/when they begin leaf expansion Warming and cooling trends seen in the Alpine will lead to decreases in some plants and increases in others, which could lead to plant community compositions that are novel for the Alpine Question: Does differential snowpack affect alpine plant community composition?


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