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Snow and Meltwater Effects in an Area of Colorado Alpine
J. Gary Holway and Richard T. Ward
The American Midland Naturalist
Vol. 69, No. 1 (Jan., 1963), pp. 189-197
Published by: The University of Notre Dame
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2422853
Page Count: 9
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Some related but different situations pertaining to the effects of snow cover and meltwater on alpine vegetation were analyzed. One was concerned with the vegetational and phenologic differences correlated with the melting back of a late season snowbank, another had to do with the comparative response of plants in a snow-free trough with that on adjacent areas of heavy drifting, and the last involved the diversion of meltwater to an area where natural flow had become negligible. The primary responses observed in the present study were the delay of normal plant development, the failure in some species to complete certain phases of the life cycle, and the replacement of certain species by different ones. In the center of the late snowbank area, species such as Deschampsia caespitosa and Trifolium parryi, which were abundant and vigorous in the outer portion of the basin, were very reduced in size, number and general vitality. Carex pyrenaica, rare to the outside, was much more abundant in the center of the basin, where the growing season was five to six weeks' duration. The differences in the snow-free trough area were primarily phenologic, although Sibbaldia procumbens showed a marked affinity for areas where snow accumulates. The artificial application of cold meltwater resulted in a delay in flowering for the majority of species, ranging from a week to as much as one month.
The American Midland Naturalist © 1963 The University of Notre Dame