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Relationships among environmental variables and distribution of tree species at high elevation in the Olympic Mountains

Northwest Science

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Abstract

Relationships among environmental variables and occurrence of tree species were investigated at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, Washington, USA. A transect consisting of three plots was established down one north-and one south-facing slope in stands representing the typical elevational sequence of tree species. Tree species included subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana), and Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis). Air and soil temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture were measured during three growing seasons. Snowmelt patterns, soil carbon and moisture release curves were also determined. The plots represented a wide range in soil water potential, a major determinant of tree species distribution (range of minimum values = -1.1 to -8.0 MPa for Pacific silver fir and Douglas-fir plots, respectively). Precipitation intercepted at plots depended on topographic location, storm direction and storm type. Differences in soil moisture among plots was related to soil properties, while annual differences at each plot were most often related to early season precipitation. Changes in climate due to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 will likely shift tree species distributions within, but not among aspects. Change will be buffered by innate tolerance of adult trees and the inertia of soil properties.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Relationships among environmental variables and distribution of tree species at high elevation in the Olympic Mountains
Series title:
Northwest Science
Volume
72
Issue:
1
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Contributing office(s):
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description:
p. 10-22
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Northwest Science
First page:
10
Last page:
22