The composition and structure of tree stands near the timberline have been studied on different slopes and at different elevations in the Tylaisko-Konzhakovsko-Serebryanskii Massif, the North Urals. It has been found that the upper limits of tree stands with different degrees of canopy closure have risen considerably (by about 100 m of elevation) since the mid-19th century, although the formation of these stands started as early as the late 18th century. Woodless areas in the eastern part of the massif started to be colonized by Larix sibirica in the late 18th to early 19th centuries; those in the western part, by Picea obovata in the mid-19th century; and in the southern part, by Betula tortuosa in the late 19th century. Analysis of meteorological data provides evidence for warming and increasing humidity of the climate since the late 19th century. Favorable climatic changes that facilitated the expansion of the forest have taken place both in the summer (prolongation of the growing period) and in winter seasons (increase of air temperature and precipitation). The observed differences in the composition and dynamics of tree stands between the studied areas of the mountain range are most probably explained by different requirements of tree species for the depth of snow cover and the degree of soil freezing.
Russian Journal of Ecology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 23, 2010
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