Chapter

Gradients in a Tropical Mountain Ecosystem of Ecuador

Volume 198 of the series Ecological Studies pp 291-302

Growth Dynamics of Trees in Tropical Mountain Ecosystems

Temporal Heterogeneities
  • A. BräuningAffiliated withInstitute of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
  • , J. HomeierAffiliated withPlant Ecology, Albrecht-von-Haller Institute for Plant Science, University of Göttingen
  • , E. CuevaAffiliated withDepartment of Plant Physiology, Bayreuth Centre for Ecology and Ecosystem Research (BayCEER), University of BayreuthFundacion Naturaleza y Cultura Internacional
  • , E. BeckAffiliated withSpezielle Botanik, Mykologie und Botanischer Garten, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen
  • , S. GünterAffiliated withInstitute of Silviculture, TU-München

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Tropical mountain rainforests are commonly regarded as a stable ecosystem in which life processes face almost invariable environmental conditions. However, as discussed for the eastern Cordillera of Ecuador in Chapter 8, even the perhumid tropics experience a more or less pronounced seasonality of precipitation patterns. Intra annual fluctuations of temperature are small and usually do not depart more than 1–3 K from the annual mean. In contrast, diurnal temperature variations of 5.1 K and 11.1 K were recorded at elevations of 2670m a.s.l. and 1950m a.s.l., respectively. Short-term climate irregularities, e.g. during periods with prevailing westerly winds, can alter the normal climate conditions considerably and thus are of great significance for plant life. Furthermore, tremendous short-distance variations of the climate are caused by effects of altitude and topography (Richter 2003).