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Alpine treeline ecotone stasis in the face of recent climate change and disturbance by fire

Naccarella, Aviya, Morgan, John W., Cutler, Seraphina C. and Venn, Susanna E. 2020, Alpine treeline ecotone stasis in the face of recent climate change and disturbance by fire, PLoS One, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 1-15, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0231339.

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Title Alpine treeline ecotone stasis in the face of recent climate change and disturbance by fire
Author(s) Naccarella, Aviya
Morgan, John W.
Cutler, Seraphina C.
Venn, Susanna E.ORCID iD for Venn, Susanna E. orcid.org/0000-0002-7433-0120
Journal name PLoS One
Volume number 15
Issue number 4
Article ID e0231339
Start page 1
End page 15
Total pages 15
Publisher Public Library of Science
Place of publication San Francisco, Calif.
Publication date 2020-04
ISSN 1932-6203
Summary How species respond to climate change will depend on biological characteristics, species physiological limits, traits (such as dispersal), and interactions with disturbance. We examine multi-decadal shifts in the distribution of trees at the alpine treeline in response to regional warming and repeated disturbance by fire in the Victorian Alps, south-east Australia. Alpine treelines are composed of Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphophila (Snow Gum, Myrtaceae) species. The location and basal girth of all trees and saplings were recorded across treelines at four mountains in 2002 and 2018. We quantify changes in treeline position (sapling recruitment above treeline) over time in relation to warming and disturbance by fire, and examine changes in stand structure below treeline (stand density, size class analyses). Short-distance advance of the treeline occurred between 2002 and 2018, but was largely restricted to areas that were unburned during this period. No saplings were seen above treeline after two fires, despite evidence that saplings were common pre-fire. Below treeline, subalpine woodland stands were largely resilient to fire; trees resprouted from lignotubers. However, small trees were reduced in number in woodlands when burned twice within a decade. Population dynamics at the alpine treeline were responsive to recent climate change, but other factors (e.g. disturbance) are crucial to understand recruitment trends. Establishment of saplings above treeline was largely restricted to unburned areas. These results indicate fire is a strong demographic filter on treeline dynamics; there is a clear need to frame alpine treeline establishment processes beyond just being a response to climate warming. Long lag periods in treeline change may be expected where recurrent disturbance is a feature of the landscape.
Language eng
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0231339
Indigenous content off
Field of Research MD Multidisciplinary
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30136448

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.