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Bouteloua gracilis (Kunth) Lag. ex Griffiths (blue grama), Bouteloua eriopoda (Torr.) Torr. (black grama), and Larrea tridentata Coville (creosotebush) are dominant plants on the McKenzie Flats portion of the Llano de Manzano landform within Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico, part of the biome ecotone from the Colorado Shortgrass Steppe to the Chihuahuan Desert. In this study, we examine the hypothesis that soil heterogeneity, determined by variation in surface soil depth, carbonate accumulation, and fine-textured fraction, controls relative dominance of the three species. The area is flat, generally <1% slope; however, abrupt soil differences exist even within the flattest parts of the landscape...
Differences in anatomical characteristics of blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima Torr.) leaves were quantitatively investigated along an elevational gradient in Lee Canyon of the Spring Mountains in southern Nevada. Three elevational sites were selected: a lower blackbrush ecotone, a nearly monospecific stand in the middle of the gradient, and an upper blackbrush ecotone. Stomatal density was significantly greater and palisade parenchyma was significantly shorter in the lower ecotone compared to the upper ecotone. Vessel diameters and areas were significantly smaller, while vessel density was higher with increasing aridity. Blackbrush shrubs exhibited upper and lower elevational ecotypes at the anatomical level in...
Because of the difficulties involved with separating natural fluctuations in climatic variables from possible directional changes related to human activities (e.g., heightened atmospheric CO2 concentrations related to fossil fuel consumption), some researchers have focused on developing alternative indicators to detect hypothesized climate changes. It has, for example, been suggested that the locations of ecotones, transitions between adjacent ecosystems or biomes, should be monitored. It is assumed that changes in climate, especially increases in atmospheric temperature, will result in shifts in the location (altitude or latitude) of ecotones as plants respond to the newly imposed climatic conditions. In this article,...
Do relationships between species and environmental gradients strengthen or weaken with tree life-stage (i.e., small seedlings, large seedlings, saplings, and mature trees)? Strengthened relationships may lead to distinct forest type boundaries, or weakening connections could lead to gradual ecotones and heterogeneous forest landscapes. We quantified the changes in forest dominance (basal area of tree species by life-stage) and environmental factors (elevation, slope, aspect, intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), summer soil moisture, and soil depth and texture) across 14 forest ecotones (n = 584, 10 m #x00D7; 10 m plots) in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, U.S.A. Local, ecotone-specific species-environment...