High Altitude Climates

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Abstract

The disappearance of snow cover appears to be the primary factor influencing phenology at high altitudes in the temperate zone. Not enough is known yet about other high-altitude areas without significant snow cover to confirm what is controlling their phenologies. One consequence of the importance of snow in controlling phenology is that flowering, and other phenological events involving both plants and animals, can be highly variable because of variation across years in snowpack depth and across space because of aspect and microsite differences in snow accumulation and melting. A consequence of this variation may be that no single set of phenological and physiological characteristics is optimally adapted to all of this variability, which would then encourage the evolution and maintenance of a diversity of adaptive strategies in high altitude communities.