Biological consequences of    earlier snowmelt from  desert dust deposition in      alpine landscapes       Heidi Steltzer...
Painter et al. (2007) Geophysical Research Letters
Human activities in             the adjacent         deserts have led to         5 fold more dust in        the mountains ...
dust           snow         vegetationpeople                   peopleDESERT                AGRICULTURE
• Effects on ecosystem services:  – Water quality and quantity  – Biodiversity  – Wildlife  – Aesthetics
Three alternative hypotheses                 Different models of how snowmelt affects                        plant communi...
Steltzer et al. (2009)Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
All species observed      Species common                     220                              - DustOnset of greening     ...
Key result• Earlier snowmelt from desert dust  deposition changes the climate  cues that regulate plant community  life hi...
220                                    SE aspectOnset of greening                                                         ...
Key result• Earlier snowmelt synchronized  plant community life history events
Synchronization of plant growth across hillslopes is a change in the fundamental  ecology of Colorado alpine ecosystems  “...
• The case is building that the transfer of desert  dust to the mountains has environmental  consequences for alpine plant...
dust           snow         vegetationpeople                   peopleDESERT                AGRICULTURE            $
Special Thanks• Center for Snow and  Avalanche Studies• British Ecological Society• U.S. National Science  Foundation• And...
Seasons and life cycles; a conceptual framework and low-cost instrumentation for automated monitoring of plant community l...
Seasons and life cycles; a conceptual framework and low-cost instrumentation for automated monitoring of plant community l...
Seasons and life cycles; a conceptual framework and low-cost instrumentation for automated monitoring of plant community l...
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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 [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 II: Global Change and the World's Mountains" conference in Perth, Scotland in September 2010.

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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 [Heidi Stelzer]

  1. 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. 2. Painter et al. (2007) Geophysical Research Letters
  3. 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. 4. dust snow vegetationpeople peopleDESERT AGRICULTURE
  5. 5. • Effects on ecosystem services: – Water quality and quantity – Biodiversity – Wildlife – Aesthetics
  6. 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. 7. Steltzer et al. (2009)Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  8. 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. 9. Key result• Earlier snowmelt from desert dust deposition changes the climate cues that regulate plant community life history in the alpine tundra.
  10. 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. 11. Key result• Earlier snowmelt synchronized plant community life history events
  12. 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. 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. 14. dust snow vegetationpeople peopleDESERT AGRICULTURE $
  15. 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

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