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|Trees in the Upper Treeline Ecotone in the Polar Urals: Centuries-Old Change and Spatial Patterns
|Fomin, V. V.
Mikhailovich, A. P.
Shiyatov, S. G.
|International Mountain Society
|Fomin V. V. Trees in the Upper Treeline Ecotone in the Polar Urals: Centuries-Old Change and Spatial Patterns / V. V. Fomin, A. P. Mikhailovich, S. G. Shiyatov. — DOI 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-20-00002.1 // Mountain Research and Development. — 2020. — Vol. 40. — Iss. 2. — P. R32-R40.
|Woody vegetation at the upper limit of its growth is a sensitive indicator of climate change. The aim of this study is to provide an analysis of the centuries-old spatiotemporal dynamics of larch trees at the upper limit of their growth (mountain massif Rai-Iz, Polar Urals, Russia). We used a ground-based method of mapping the remnants of trees that grew in the study area and died during the Little Ice Age. Aerial photographs from the 1960s and high-spatial-resolution satellite images from 2015 were used as data sources to define the locations of trees. Maps of the forest-Tundra phytocoenochoras (areas of the terrain that are relatively homogeneous for one or more components of vegetation and/or other indicators) were created using a modified method of boundary detection between forest parcels with different stand densities. The proposed method of boundary detection between the main types of phytocoenochoras allowed us to identify a 15% total increase in areas of closed and open forest and areas with sparse tree growth, as well as a decrease in areas of tundra with single trees over these last decades. Using our spatiotemporal analysis of forest-Tundra demographics over the last 50 years, we found that the number of trees in the ecotone had doubled. However, modern trees have not yet reached the areas occupied by trees in the past. ©
UPPER TREELINE ECOTONE
|This work was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project 18-34-00803 mol_a). Some studies related to the assessment of the spatial distribution of snow at the beginning of the growing season were carried out within a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (project 17-14-01112) and a grant from the Russian Ministry for Education and Science (FEUG-2020-0013). We express our gratitude to Dmitriy Golikov and Yegor Agapitov for their help in setting up forest plots and data processing, and also to Denis Kapralov for help in mapping the tree remnants.
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