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Abstract (from Content Changing aspen distribution in response to climate change and fire is a major focus of biodiversity conservation, yet little is known about the potential response of aspen to these two driving forces along topoclimatic gradients. Objective This study is set to evaluate how aspen distribution might shift in response to different climate-fire scenarios in a semi-arid montane landscape, and quantify the influence of fire regime along topoclimatic gradients. Methods We used a novel integration of a forest landscape succession and disturbance model (LANDIS-II) with a fine-scale climatic water deficit approach to simulate dynamics of...
Early succession aspen and late succession conifer forests have different architecture and physiology affecting hydrologic transfer processes. An evaluation of water pools and fluxes was used to determine differences in the hydrologic dynamics between stands of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) and associated stands of mixed conifer consisting of white fir (Abies concolor), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii). In 2005 and 2006, measurements of snow water accumulation, snow ablation (melt), soil water content, snowpack sublimation, and evapotranspiration (ET) were measured in adjacent aspen and conifer stands. Peak snow water equivalent (SWE) averaged 34–44% higher in...
Quaking aspen populations are declining in much of the West due to altered fire regimes, competition with conifers, herbivory, drought, disease, and insect outbreaks. Aspen stands typically support higher bird biodiversity and abundance than surrounding habitat types, and maintaining current distribution and abundance of several bird species in the northern Great Basin is likely tied to the persistence of aspen in the landscape. This project examined the effects of climate change on aspen and associated bird communities by coupling empirical models of avian-habitat relationships with landscape simulations of vegetation community and disturbance dynamics under various climate change scenarios. Field data on avian...
Aspen exhibits a variety of ecological roles. In southern Colorado, the 1880 landscape mosaic contained a range of stand ages, of which half were >70 years old and half were younger. Pure aspen stands in southern Colorado are widespread and may result from previous short fire intervals that eliminated local conifer seed sources. Aspen regeneration in northern Yellowstone Park is controlled by ungulate browsing pressure and fire, so it has been limited since 1920. However, an episode of aspen seedling establishment occurred after the 1988 fires. We urgently need additional detailed, local case studies of aspen ecology to inform management decisions. Published in Sustaining Aspen in Western Landscapes: Symposium Proceedings,...
Elk browsing and conifer species mixing with aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) present current challenges to aspen forest management in the western United States. We evaluated the effects of conifers and elk browsing on quaking aspen stands in and near Rocky Mountain National Park using tree rings to reconstruct patterns of aspen establishment, growth, and mortality over the past 120 years. High conifer encroachment and elk browse were both associated with decreased aspen recruitment, with mean recruitment dropping over 30% from pure aspen to mixed stands and over 50% from low-browse to high-browse stands. Maximum aspen recruitment was lower in mixed stands than in pure stands with the same tree basal area. High...

    map background search result map search result map Aspen's ecological role in the West Quantifying Vulnerability of Quaking Aspen Woodlands and Associated Bird Communities to Global Climate Change in the Northern Great Basin Quantifying Vulnerability of Quaking Aspen Woodlands and Associated Bird Communities to Global Climate Change in the Northern Great Basin Aspen's ecological role in the West