Seasons and life cycles; a conceptual framework and low-cost instrumentation for automated monitoring of plant community life histories in alpine landscapes [Heidi Stelzer]

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Seasons and life cycles; a conceptual framework and low-cost instrumentation for automated monitoring of plant community life histories in alpine landscapes. Presented by Heidi Stelzer at the "Perth …

Seasons and life cycles; a conceptual framework and low-cost instrumentation for automated monitoring of plant community life histories in alpine landscapes. Presented by Heidi Stelzer at the "Perth II: Global Change and the World's Mountains" conference in Perth, Scotland in September 2010.

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  • 1. Biological consequences of earlier snowmelt from desert dust deposition in alpine landscapes Heidi Steltzer, Chris Landry,Tom Painter, Justin Anderson, and Ed Ayres
  • 2. Painter et al. (2007) Geophysical Research Letters
  • 3. Human activities in the adjacent deserts have led to 5 fold more dust in the mountains since the mid-1800’s.Neff et al. (2008) Nature Geoscience
  • 4. dust snow vegetationpeople peopleDESERT AGRICULTURE
  • 5. • Effects on ecosystem services: – Water quality and quantity – Biodiversity – Wildlife – Aesthetics
  • 6. Three alternative hypotheses Different models of how snowmelt affects plant community life history Onset of eventOnset of event (Day of year) (Day of year) Day of year Day of year snowfree snowfree
  • 7. Steltzer et al. (2009)Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 8. All species observed Species common 220 - DustOnset of greening Control (day of year) 200 + Dust Fabric 180 R2 = 0.96 160 wr = 0.96 220Onset of flowering (day of year) 200 180 R2 = 0.97 160 wr = 1.00 150 160 170 180 190 200 150 160 170 180 Day of year snowfree Day of year sno
  • 9. Key result• Earlier snowmelt from desert dust deposition changes the climate cues that regulate plant community life history in the alpine tundra.
  • 10. 220 SE aspectOnset of greening NE aspect (day of year) 200 P = 0.01 P = 0.07 P = 0.89 180 160 220Onset of flowering (day of year) 200 P = 0.01 P = 0.41 P = 0.88 180 160 - Dust Control + Dust Fabric Earlier snowmelt
  • 11. Key result• Earlier snowmelt synchronized plant community life history events
  • 12. Synchronization of plant growth across hillslopes is a change in the fundamental ecology of Colorado alpine ecosystems “A tendency of plants to grow and bloom in lockstep would lead to a feast-and-famine ecology forboth plants and animals, rather than one with resources distributed throughout the growing season.” Christian Science Monitor (2009)
  • 13. • The case is building that the transfer of desert dust to the mountains has environmental consequences for alpine plants, wildlife, and people.• Our use of desert landscapes is linked to the life cycles of mountain plants and changes the environmental cues that determine when alpine meadows will be in bloom, possibly increasing plants’ sensitivity to climate warming.
  • 14. dust snow vegetationpeople peopleDESERT AGRICULTURE $
  • 15. Special Thanks• Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies• British Ecological Society• U.S. National Science Foundation• Andrew Temple, CSAS• Michael Barton, CSAS• Koren Nydick, MSI• David Inouye, RMBL• Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, CSU• Uncompahgre National Forest• Fort Lewis College