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Earle - 1993 - Dissertation, Ribbon Forests in WY

Earle - 1993 - Dissertation, Ribbon Forests in WY

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Published by Christopher Earle

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Published by: Christopher Earle on Aug 28, 2012
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Main text.doc 2/14/03 Page 1 of 1Earle, C. J. 1993 [Dissertation]
Forest Dynamics In A Forest-Tundra Ecotone, Medicine Bow Mountains, WyomingbyChristopher J. EarleA dissertation submitted in partial fulfillmentof the requirements for the degree of Doctor of PhilosophyUniversity of Washington1993
Approved by ____________________________________________(Chairperson of Supervisory Committee)Program authorized to offer degree: .College of Forest Resources, Division of Ecosystem Science and ConservationDate___________________________________________________
 In presenting this degree in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctoral degreeat the University of Washington, I agree that the Library shall make its copies freelyavailable for inspection. I further agree that extensive copying of this dissertation isallowable only for scholarly purposes, consistent with "fair use" as prescribed in the U.S.Copyright Law. Requests for copying or reproduction of this dissertation may be referredto University Microfilms, 1490 Eisenhower Place, P.O. Box 975, Ann Arbor, MI 48106,to whom the author has granted "the right to reproduce and sell (a) copies of themanuscript in microform and/or (b) printed copies of the manuscript made frommicroform."Signature________________________Date____________________________
 University of WashingtonAbstractForest Dynamics In A Forest-Tundra Ecotone, Medicine Bow Mountains, Wyomingby Christopher J. EarleChairperson of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Linda BrubakerCollege of Forest Resources, Division of Ecosystem Science and ConservationThe alpine timberline in much of western North America is characterized by a structurallycomplex transition from subalpine forest to alpine tundra, the forest-tundra ecotone.Trees within the ecotone are typically arrayed across the landscape within clumps or"ribbon forests," elongated strips oriented perpendicular to the prevailing winds. Thisstudy describes the structure and reconstructs the development of two study plots, onecontaining ribbon forest and the other, tree clumps. These data are used to develop atheory of ribbon forest origin and development. The plots are located within a forest-tundra area dominated by Engelmann spruce (
Picea engelmannii
) and subalpine fir (
).At the clump plot, most trees have established by layering. Consequently, clumps typicallycontain one species (spruce or fir). All clumps contain trees that consist of a flaggedleader growing above a krummholz mat. Evidence from a regional tree-ring databasesuggests that an episode of new clump establishment and leader release between 1850 and1925 occurred in response to a period of relatively warm summers. Presently, patterns of snow accumulation and seedling establishment suggest that microsites covered by < 1 m of snow are too dry, and microsites with > 1.5 m of snow are too wet, for successful seedlingestablishment.The ribbon plot is dominated by spruce, most of which established from seed. The forestalso contains clumps of fir, which established primarily by layering. Before 1750, theforest apparently consisted of discrete tree clumps. Many of the oldest trees display relictkrummholz growth form features suggesting that they experienced an environment similarto that now found at the clump plot. These trees show an abrupt increase in radial growthbeginning ca. 1750 and from this time until about 1830 widespread seedling establishmentoccurred, with many trees establishing several meters from their nearest neighbor. This

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