The altitudinal gradient is considered as a stress gradient for plant species because the development and fitness of plant communities tend to decrease as a result of the extreme environmental conditions present at high elevations. Abiotic factors are predicted to be the primary filter for species assemblage in high alpine areas, influencing biotic interactions through both competition for resources and positive interactions among species. We hypothesised that the relative importance of the ecological driving forces that affect the biotic interactions within plant communities changes along an elevation gradient on alpine debris slopes. We used multiple gradient analyses of 180 vegetation plots along an altitudinal range from 1,600 to 2,600 m and single 100 m-bands in the Adamello-Presanella Group (Central Alps) to investigate our hypothesis; we measured multiple environmental variables related to different ecological driving forces. Our results illustrate that resource limitations at higher elevations affect not only the shift from competition to facilitation among species. A geomorphological disturbance regime along alpine slopes favours the resilience of the high-altitude species within topographic/geomorphological traps. An understanding of the ecological driving forces and positive interactions as a function of altitude may clarify the mechanisms underlying plant responses to present and future environmental changes.

Geomorphological disturbance affects ecological driving forces and plant turnover along an altitudinal stress gradient on alpine slopes

BARONI, CARLO
2013

Abstract

The altitudinal gradient is considered as a stress gradient for plant species because the development and fitness of plant communities tend to decrease as a result of the extreme environmental conditions present at high elevations. Abiotic factors are predicted to be the primary filter for species assemblage in high alpine areas, influencing biotic interactions through both competition for resources and positive interactions among species. We hypothesised that the relative importance of the ecological driving forces that affect the biotic interactions within plant communities changes along an elevation gradient on alpine debris slopes. We used multiple gradient analyses of 180 vegetation plots along an altitudinal range from 1,600 to 2,600 m and single 100 m-bands in the Adamello-Presanella Group (Central Alps) to investigate our hypothesis; we measured multiple environmental variables related to different ecological driving forces. Our results illustrate that resource limitations at higher elevations affect not only the shift from competition to facilitation among species. A geomorphological disturbance regime along alpine slopes favours the resilience of the high-altitude species within topographic/geomorphological traps. An understanding of the ecological driving forces and positive interactions as a function of altitude may clarify the mechanisms underlying plant responses to present and future environmental changes.
Gentili, R.; Armiraglio, S.; Sgorbati, S.; Baroni, Carlo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11568/207526
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