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Climatic and Hydrologic Effects on the Regeneration of Populus angustifolia James Along the Animas River, Colorado

William L. Baker
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 17, No. 1 (Jan., 1990), pp. 59-73
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845188
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845188
Page Count: 15
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Climatic and Hydrologic Effects on the Regeneration of Populus angustifolia James Along the Animas River, Colorado
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Abstract

I investigated the dates of origin of riparian forests dominated by Populus angustifolia James, and recent interannual fluctuation in P. angustifolia seedling abundance on a relatively undisturbed 6-mile reach of the Animas River in southwestern Colorado. The goal was to develop plausible hypotheses about the roles of floods and interannual climatic fluctuation in structuring these forests. I determined the year of origin 242 recently-established seedlings and fifty-seven forest stands, and then developed empirical models relating seedling abundance and stand-origin events to climatic and hydrologic fluctuations. Seedlings were most abundant in years with cool winters, wet springs, and cool, wet falls (R2 adj=0.98). Both good seedling years and stand-origin years were associated with winter blocking in the North Pacific and a persistent late-summer Arizona Monsoon. Extant stand originated in ten to thirteen discrete periods between 1848 and 1976, in years with both high spring and fall peak discharges. Expected seedling abundance and stand-origin dates since 1914 were reconstructed using climate data, and were extended to 1556 using tree-ring chronologies. Model results suggest good seedling years occurred more frequently (about ever 3.4 years) than stand-origin years (about every 10-15 years). Good seedling years were 2-3 times, and stand-origin years were 5 times more common from 1848 to 1985 than from 1556 to 1848. Recent expansion of P. angustifolia may have been favoured by more frequent cool, wet years since 1848.

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