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Alpine and High Subalpine Plant Communities of the North Cascades Range, Washington and British Columbia

George W. Douglas and L. C. Bliss
Ecological Monographs
Vol. 47, No. 2 (Spring, 1977), pp. 113-150
DOI: 10.2307/1942614
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1942614
Page Count: 38
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Alpine and High Subalpine Plant Communities of the North Cascades Range, Washington and British Columbia
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Abstract

Community types were described from 209 stands in the alpine zone of the North Cascades Range. The maritime to continental climatic change from west to east has a profound effect on regional vegetation patterns. Most of the community types in the eastern North Cascades are closely related to those in the Rocky Mountains, southern Alaska and the southern Yukon whereas communities in the western North Cascades are more similar to communities in other west coast ranges. Soils in the region include Entisols, Inceptisols, and Spodosols. Physical properties are quite similar in most soils. Organic matter, total cation exchange capacity, and pH generally decrease from west to east while exchangeable cations and nutrient levels are low throughout the region. A fellfield-dry graminoid-mesic environmental gradient was examined on Grouse Ridge, Mt. Baker. High soil temperature and low soil moisture regimes were typical of the ridgetop fellfield. During drought periods, on the vegetated portion of the slope, soil temperatures decreased and soil moisture stress increased with distance downslope; a reflection of increased plant cover and greater evapotranspiration towards the base of the slope. Species at the base of the slope had reduced vigor and much lower leaf water potential than those upslope. Phenological patterns were closely related to date of snowmelt and early-season temperature regimes along the gradient.

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