Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 558–570 | Cite as

Contemporary and historic population structure of Abies spectabilis at treeline in Barun valley, eastern Nepal Himalaya

  • Parveen Kumar ChhetriEmail author
  • David M. Cairns


Treeline ecotone dynamics of Abies spectabilis (D. Don) Mirb. in the Barun valley, Makalu Barun National Park, eastern Nepal Himalaya were studied by establishing seven plots (20 m × variable length) from the forestline to the tree species limit: three plots on the south- and north-facing slopes each (S1–S3, N1–N3), and one plot on the east-facing slope (E) in the relatively undisturbed forests. A dendroecological method was used to study treeline advance rate and recruitment pattern. In all the plots, most trees established in the early 20th century, and establishment in the second half of the 20th century was confined to the forestline area. Treeline position has not advanced substantially in the Barun valley, with only 22 m average elevational shift in the last 130 years, and with average current shifting rate of 14 cm/yr. Moreover, no significant relationship was found between tree age and elevation on the south-, north-, and east-facing slopes. The number of seedlings and saplings in near the treeline area was negligible compared to that near the forestline area. Therefore, A. spectabilis treeline response to the temperature change was slow, despite the increasing temperature trend in the region. Beside the temperature change, factors such as high inter-annual variability in temperature, dense shrub cover, and local topography also play an important role in treeline advance and controlling recruitment pattern above the treeline.


Climate change Treeline ecotone Treeline advance Recruitment pattern 


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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