ALPINE AND MONTANE ECOSYSTEMS

 

I. Alpine distribution (D. Billings. 1988. Alpine vegetation. Ch. 13 in M. Barbour and D. Billings, (eds.) North American Terrestrial Vegetation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 434 p.)

    A. Alpine biome one of smaller North American ecosystem complexes

    B. Isolated peaks in east (Mts. Washington, Katahdin) and two ranges in Newfoundland and Labrador

    C. Occurs primarily in the west as a series of montane islands along cordilleras

        Coastal from Alaska to Sierra Nevada

        Rocky Mtns. from Brooks Range to N. Arizona and New Mexico

II. Alpine environment

    A. Conditions

        1. Alpine environments: bare rocky crests, thin atmosphere, low temps., intense solar radiation, blowing snow, long-lasting drifts, wind.

        2. Differs from arctic tundra in: intensity and wavelength of solar radiation, u.v., daylength, wind, soils, snow cover, topography.

    B. Principal biological factor is lack of trees

    C. Soils

        1. Cold and often wet

        2. Freeze-thaw cycles

        3. Shallow soil

    D. Plants

        1. Life forms: short, herbaceous perennials/low prostate shrubs, annuals rare, lichens and mosses

        2. Succession: slow, patchy, two pathways

            biological: cushion plants are invaded

            physical: sedge peat hummocks build up

III. Alpine disturbances

    A. Grazing

    B. Mining

    C. Outdoor recreation

IV. Montane environment zones, PNW (J. Franklin. 1988. Pacific Northwest Forests. Ch. 8 in M. Barbour and D. Billings, (eds.) North American Terrestrial Vegetation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 434 p.)

    A. Western hemlock/Douglas fir lowland forest, up to 700-1000 m

    B. Pacific silver fir zone

        1. Mixture of temperate and subalpine

        2. Permanent winter snowpack

    C. Subalpine: Mountain hemlock zone

        1. Coldest and snowiest forest zone

        2. Deep and persistent winter snowpack, warm in summer

        3. Tsuga mertensiana, Abies lasiocarpa, Abies amablis

    D. Subalpine parkland

        1. Ecotonal with alpine

        2. Intermediate in vegetation composition
 

 

Outline from Alpine Restoration chapter in Urbanska, et al. 1997. Restoration Ecology and Sustainable Development

 

CASE HISTORIES

 

V.Effects of trampling, Olympic National Park (K. Bell and L. Bliss .1973. Alpine disturbance studies: Olympic National Park, USA. Biological Conservation 5:25-32.

    A. Trampling transect study

        1. Transects through:

            a) snowbank community

            b) stone-vegetation stripe community

        2. Pronounced biomass effect

    B. Roadcut: vegetation still absent after 31 years

VI. Recovery of alpine disturbances (D. Roach and P. Marchand .1984. Recovery of alpine disturbances: early growth and survival in populations of the native species, Arenaria groenlandica, Juncus trifidus and Potentilla tridentata. Arctic and Alpine Research 16:37-43)

    A. Area of human trampling along Appalachian Trail

    B. Seeds sown into: trampled areas, solifluction terraces

    C. Seedling demography

        1. Recruitment

        2. Mortality

    D. Causes of mortality observed

VII. High-altitude meadow restoration in Mt. Rainier National Park (R. Rochefort and S. Gibbons .1992. Mending the meadow. Restoration and Management Notes 10:120-126.)

    A. Impacts: soil loss, vegetation loss, changes in vegetation composition, soil compaction, loss of surface litter and OM, changes in soil chemistry, changes in soil temperature and moisture

    B. Restoration techniques

        1. Site preparation

            scarification

            stabilization

            filling

    2. Revegetation

        seeding

        transplanting

        natural revegetation

    C. Site protection: barriers, design, public education on site, enforcement, mulch, signs.

VIII.On-site restoration techniques for western mountainous regions (R. Hanby 1992. On-site restoration techniques for western mountainous regions. Report prepared for Intermountain Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Missoula, Montana, 40 p.)

    Three assumptions:

1. Human-related impacts, including grazing, are controlled.

2. Procedures useful in front- and backcountry.

3. Wilderness Acts mandates are followed

    A. Plant recovery/holding over

        1. Collecting plants from nearby work site and using them

        2 . Benefits

            no need to discard

            larger plants become available

            woody plants, difficult to propagate, made available

            intact root systems may be saved

        3. May be overwintered

    B. On-site propagation

        1. Donor sites

            scarce

            holes from which plugs taken stay visible

        2. Container grown

            which plants? when?

            hardening off

        3. Root division

            herbaceous plants and grasses

            off-site or on-site

        4. Root pruning

             shearing off lateral roots

            in anticipation of lifting and transplanting

        5. Seeding beds

            need warmth, moisture, growing medium

            procedure

        6. Layering

            rooting of living branches