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Title: Holocene forest development and maintenance on different substrates in the Klamath mountains, northern California, USA

Author: Briles, Christy E.; Whitlock, Cathy; Skinner, Carl N.; Mohr, Jerry

Date: 2011

Source: Ecology 92(3): 590-601

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: The influence of substrate on long-term vegetation dynamics has received little attention, and yet nutrient-limited ecosystems have some of the highest levels of endemism in the world. The diverse geology of the Klamath Mountains of northern California (USA) allows examination of the long-term influence of edaphic constraints in subalpine forests through a comparison of vegetation histories between nutrient-limited ultramafic substrates and terrain that is more fertile. Pollen and charcoal records spanning up to 15 000 years from ultramafic settings reveal a distinctly different vegetation history compared to other soil types. In non-ultramafic settings, the dominant trees and shrubs shifted in elevation in response to Holocene climate variations resulting in compositional and structural changes, whereas on ultramafic substrates changes were primarily structural, not compositional. Fire activity was similar through most of the Holocene with the exception of declines over the last 4000 years on ultramafic substrates, likely due to the reduction of understory fuels and cooler wetter conditions than in the middle Holocene. These results suggest that the tree and shrub distributions were more responsive to past climate changes on non-ultramafic substrates compared to those on ultramafic substrates. The combination of these dynamics may help explain high levels of plant diversity in the Klamath Mountains and provide insights for managing these complex ecosystems.

Keywords: biodiversity controls, climate change, geoecology, Holocene, Klamath Mountains, California (USA), substrates, vegetation, fire history

Publication Notes:

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Briles, Christy E.; Whitlock, Cathy; Skinner, Carl N.; Mohr, Jerry. 2011. Holocene forest development and maintenance on different substrates in the Klamath mountains, northern California, USA. Ecology 92(3): 590-601

 


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