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Alpine Plant Life: Functional Plant Ecology of High Mountain by Christian Körner

By Christian Körner

Generations of plant scientists were interested by alpine flora - with the publicity of organisms to dramatic climatic gradients over a really brief distance. This entire textual content treats a variety of subject matters: alpine weather and soils, plant distribution and the treeline phenomenon, physiological ecology of water-, dietary- and carbon kinfolk of alpine crops, plant rigidity and plant improvement, biomass construction, and facets of human affects on alpine plants. Geographically the e-book covers all components of the realm together with the tropics.

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Example text

Temperatures regularly deviated from the air temperature by 15K. 5 K 39 40 4 The climate plants experience 35 0- ~ 0) .... ::J ....... • • • • Erect plant ... ~ {:}. 6 1:'~ 6 • 20 • 0- E 15 0) ••• ....... 6 ~66 ~ c ~ a.. 10 Central Alps 2300 m 25 5 0 0 5 10 15 20 25 - 20 () ~ Air temperature (OC) Fig. 9. Plant temperature as modified by plant life form at 3800 m altitude in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. 5°C at an air temperature of 21°C). He suggested in accordance with Dahl (1951) that such prostrate plants are unable to survive at lower altitudes, because of these pronounced decoupling effects from atmospheric temperature conditions.

Stature, leaf arrangements, height above ground, and surface roughness of the plant canopy exert strong influences on aerodynamic coupling to the free atmosphere (Huber 1956; Geiger 1965). 6 illustrate the effect of canopy structure on plant climate. The prostrate dwarf shrub, despite its greater wind exposure, had the highest leaf temperatures under otherwise similar atmospheric temperatures. The favorable thermal climate of small or prostrate B Primula minima 2200 m A Sempervivum montanum 2200 m Tair sure (and its stature) create thermal conditions that may otherwise be found at 4000 m elevation.

Reflections from surrounding snow may further enhance the radiative load in certain areas. Alpine plants have to cope with such short term extremes, unlikely to occur at lower altitudes. Similar to the situation with solar radiation sums, there is also no general pattern for changes in precipitation sums with altitude. The most common observation at lower altitudes is an elevational increase. In most areas of the temperate zone, such as in the Scottish mountains, the Alps, but also in the high mountains of central Asia, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, this trend continues to the highest altitudes (Flohn 1974).

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