Land-use change under a warming climate facilitated upslope expansion of Himalayan silver fir (Abies spectabilis (D. Don) Spach)
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Global warming is triggering some species to shift towards the poles or higher elevations, but spatial translocation is also influenced by land-use regime or intensity. The Himalayan climate is getting warmer and land use has changed, reducing in intensity in some areas. We estimated the upper species limit (USL) and tree limit of Abies spectabilis (D. Don) Spach and assessed whether these have changed over recent years. We hypothesise an upslope shift in response to enhanced temperature and changes in land-use intensity. Our four transects were located in treeline ecotones of two protected areas in Nepal, namely Manaslu Conservation Area (3 transects) and Gaurishankar Conservation Area (1 transect). Transects (20 m wide) ran from the USL of A. spectabilis down towards the treeline and beyond to the forest line. Length of each transect varied depending on local conditions. Co-ordinates, elevation, height and age of each A. spectabilis individual along the transects were recorded. We noted an upward shift of both the USL and the tree limit. The rate of shift was ca. 20 m per decade for the USL and 12 m per decade for the tree limit in the area of reduced land-use intensity and in the area with no change in land use, 5 m per decade for the USL, but almost nil for tree limit. The seedling density was higher below the treeline than above. Reduced intensity of land use was the dominant factor in upslope shift of A. spectabilis at both the USL and the tree limit.
CitationPlant Ecology 2016, 217(8):993-1002
SubjectAbies spectabilisCentral HimalayaClimate changeTreeline ecotoneTree limitRegenerationUpper species limit
Copyright 2016 The Author(s)