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Performance of Salix Herbacea in an Alpine Snow-Bed Gradient
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 74, No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 675-684
Published by: British Ecological Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2260390
Page Count: 10
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(1) Changes in percentage cover, biomass distribution, shoot growth, shoot density and shoot age distribution of the rhizomatous dwarf shrub Salix herbacea were studied along a belt transect which spanned a sharp gradient in snow cover. (2) S. herbacea showed its maximum cover, biomass and shoot density in the lowermost section of the topographical gradient where snow persisted for the longest period. However, maxima in size and growth of individual shoots were found at the upper distributional limit. Low competitive ability might explain why this species is restricted to areas with severe climatic conditions. (3) Lower average shoot age and absence of shoots over 10 years old in the upper part of the transect indicate a higher mortality rate, probably due to competition and herbivore damage. (4) Within the transect, a 20% increase in growing season length was associated with a five-fold increase in S. herbacea shoot growth. The great difference in growth is probably related to differences in plant and rhizome age-structures in addition to differences in length of the growing season.
Journal of Ecology © 1986 British Ecological Society