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Ecophysiology of High Elevation Forests

  • William K. Smith
  • Alan K. Knapp
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 80)

Abstract

The high elevation forests surrounding the Great Basin of the western United States represent the most extreme cold-temperature environments of the area. Summer periods with non-freezing temperatures may be less than 50 days and, as described in Chapter 2, annual precipitation occurs primarily as winter snowfall. Because these forests are dominated by evergreen conifers, both summer drought, and winter drought caused by frozen soil and plant water, along with strong evaporative demand, may be especially important. In addition, potentially large increases in instantaneous solar irradiance at high elevations coupled with relatively tall tree height and open spacing, may lead to extreme variations in sunlight penetration within the forest community (Plate 9.1). Frequent midday and afternoon clouds, throughout the summer generate large variations in sunlight even in open habitats. This variability in sunlight contributes to similarly extreme variation in temperature, water and photosynthetic relations. Thus, the combination of cold temperatures, the potential for summer and winter drought, and extremes in sunlight provide one of the most challenging and variable environments within the Great Basin complex, or elsewhere. Moreover, the extreme upper boundary for forest tree growth occurs at alpine timberline in these high elevation forests.

Keywords

Stomatal Conductance Leaf Temperature Carbon Gain Stomatal Opening Stomatal Response 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • William K. Smith
  • Alan K. Knapp

There are no affiliations available

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