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Role of multidecadal climate variability in a range extension of pinyon pine

Ecology

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Abstract

Evidence from woodrat middens and tree rings at Dutch John Mountain (DJM) in northeastern Utah reveal spatiotemporal patterns of pinyon pine (Pinus edulis Engelm.) colonization and expansion in the past millennium. The DJM population, a northern outpost of pinyon, was established by long-distance dispersal (~40 km). Growth of this isolate was markedly episodic and tracked multidecadal variability in precipitation. Initial colonization occurred by AD 1246, but expansion was forestalled by catastrophic drought (1250–1288), which we speculate produced extensive mortality of Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little), the dominant tree at DJM for the previous ~8700 years. Pinyon then quickly replaced juniper across DJM during a few wet decades (1330–1339 and 1368–1377). Such alternating decadal-scale droughts and pluvial events play a key role in structuring plant communities at the landscape to regional level. These decadal-length precipitation anomalies tend to be regionally coherent and can synchronize physical and biological processes across large areas. Vegetation forecast models must incorporate these temporal and geographic aspects of climate variability to accurately predict the effects of future climate change.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Role of multidecadal climate variability in a range extension of pinyon pine
Series title:
Ecology
Volume
87
Issue:
5
Year Published:
2006
Language:
English
Publisher:
Ecological Society of America
Publisher location:
Ithaca, NY
Contributing office(s):
Branch of Regional Research-Western Region
Description:
7 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
1124
Last page:
1130
Country:
United States
State:
Utah
Other Geospatial:
Dutch John Mountain