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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Consequences of treeline shifts for the diversity and function of high altitude ecosystems
Authors: Greenwood, Sarah
Jump, Alistair
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Issue Date: Nov-2014
Publisher: Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado
Citation: Greenwood S & Jump A (2014) Consequences of treeline shifts for the diversity and function of high altitude ecosystems, Arctic Antarctic and Alpine Research, 46 (4), pp. 829-840.
Abstract: Treeline expansion is reported as a widespread response to rising temperatures, yet few studies have considered the impact of treeline advance on the diversity and function of high altitude systems. Evidence suggests that climate change is already having a negative impact on alpine diversity and is modifying functions such as carbon sequestration and nutrient cycling. Treeline advance is likely to further affect diversity and function, yet our understanding of the processes involved is limited. Here we review and synthesize literature that assesses the impact of treeline advance into treeless ecosystems. Using published literature, we explore to what extent treeline advance will lead to the displacement of alpine species and the fragmentation of alpine habitats. While large changes will be observed in the ecosystems above the current treeline as trees migrate, it is likely that these newly forested areas will deviate substantially from the established forests from which they have developed. Consequently, at the forest community level we investigate the potential for differential response speeds of typical forest plant species, and the potential for treeline advance to lead to community disassembly. Given that changes in species presence and abundance can alter the functional composition of plant communities, we explore the potential for shifts in tree distribution to lead to changes in carbon storage, nutrient cycling, and hydrological properties of ecosystems. Despite typically being intensively studied regions, the likely impact of forest expansion above the current mountain treeline has received relatively little attention and so we identify key knowledge gaps that should act as priorities for future research in mountain systems.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: The publisher has granted permission for use of this work in this Repository. Published in Arctic Antarctic and Alpine Research 2014, 46.4, pp. 829-840 by Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado:
Affiliation: Biological and Environmental Sciences
Biological and Environmental Sciences

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