Deciphering the spatial patterns of alpine treelines is critical for understanding the ecosystem processes involved in the persistence of tree species and their altitudinal limit. Treelines are thought to be controlled by temperature, and other environmental variables but they have rarely been investigated in regions with different land-use change legacies. Here, we systematically investigated treeline elevation in the Apennines (Italy) and Southern Alps (New Zealand) with contrasting human history but similar biogeographic trajectories, intending to identify distinct drivers that affect their current elevation and highlight their respective peculiarities. Over 3622 km of Apennines, treeline elevation was assessed in 302 mountain peaks and in 294 peaks along 4504 km of Southern Alps. The major difference between the Southern Alps and Apennines treeline limit is associated with their mountain aspects. In the Southern Alps, the scarcely anthropized Nothofagus treeline elevation was higher on the warmer equator-facing slopes than on the pole-facing ones. Contrary to what would be expected based on temperature limitation, the elevation of Fagus sylvatica treelines in the Apennines was higher on colder, pole-facing slopes than on human-shaped equator-facing, warmer mountainsides. Pervasive positive correlations were found between treeline elevation and temperature in the Southern Alps but not in the Apennines. While the position of the Fagus and Nothofagus treelines converge on similar isotherms of annual average temperature, a striking isothermal difference between the temperatures of the hottest month on which the two taxonomic groups grow exists. We conclude that actual treeline elevation reflects the ecological processes driven by a combination of local-scale topoclimatic conditions, and human disturbance legacy. Predicting dynamic processes affecting current and future alpine treeline position requires further insight into the modulating influences that are currently understood at a regional scale.

Topoclimate effect on treeline elevation depends on the regional framework: A contrast between Southern Alps (New Zealand) and Apennines (Italy) forests / Rita, A.; Saracino, A.; Cieraad, E.; Saulino, L.; Zotti, M.; Idbella, M.; Destefano, C.; Mogavero, V.; Allevato, E.; Bonanomi, G.. - In: ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. - ISSN 2045-7758. - 13:1(2023), p. e9733. [10.1002/ece3.9733]

Topoclimate effect on treeline elevation depends on the regional framework: A contrast between Southern Alps (New Zealand) and Apennines (Italy) forests

Rita A.
Primo
Writing – Review & Editing
;
Saracino A.;Saulino L.;Zotti M.;Mogavero V.;Allevato E.;Bonanomi G.
2023

Abstract

Deciphering the spatial patterns of alpine treelines is critical for understanding the ecosystem processes involved in the persistence of tree species and their altitudinal limit. Treelines are thought to be controlled by temperature, and other environmental variables but they have rarely been investigated in regions with different land-use change legacies. Here, we systematically investigated treeline elevation in the Apennines (Italy) and Southern Alps (New Zealand) with contrasting human history but similar biogeographic trajectories, intending to identify distinct drivers that affect their current elevation and highlight their respective peculiarities. Over 3622 km of Apennines, treeline elevation was assessed in 302 mountain peaks and in 294 peaks along 4504 km of Southern Alps. The major difference between the Southern Alps and Apennines treeline limit is associated with their mountain aspects. In the Southern Alps, the scarcely anthropized Nothofagus treeline elevation was higher on the warmer equator-facing slopes than on the pole-facing ones. Contrary to what would be expected based on temperature limitation, the elevation of Fagus sylvatica treelines in the Apennines was higher on colder, pole-facing slopes than on human-shaped equator-facing, warmer mountainsides. Pervasive positive correlations were found between treeline elevation and temperature in the Southern Alps but not in the Apennines. While the position of the Fagus and Nothofagus treelines converge on similar isotherms of annual average temperature, a striking isothermal difference between the temperatures of the hottest month on which the two taxonomic groups grow exists. We conclude that actual treeline elevation reflects the ecological processes driven by a combination of local-scale topoclimatic conditions, and human disturbance legacy. Predicting dynamic processes affecting current and future alpine treeline position requires further insight into the modulating influences that are currently understood at a regional scale.
2023
Topoclimate effect on treeline elevation depends on the regional framework: A contrast between Southern Alps (New Zealand) and Apennines (Italy) forests / Rita, A.; Saracino, A.; Cieraad, E.; Saulino, L.; Zotti, M.; Idbella, M.; Destefano, C.; Mogavero, V.; Allevato, E.; Bonanomi, G.. - In: ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. - ISSN 2045-7758. - 13:1(2023), p. e9733. [10.1002/ece3.9733]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/918668
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