Effect of snowmelt regime on phenology of herbaceous species at and around treeline in Western Himalaya, India

  • Bhupendra S. ADHIKARI Wildlife Institute of India, Department of Habitat Ecology, Chandrabani, Dehradun 248007, Uttarakhand https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5632-0044
  • Rahul KUMAR Wildlife Institute of India, Department of Habitat Ecology, Chandrabani, Dehradun 248007, Uttarakhand
Keywords: climate change; ecotone; phenophase; snowmelt; treeline

Abstract

The present study attempts to investigate the phenological changes of herbaceous plant species in early snowmelt microsite and late snowmelt microsite in treeline ecotone (3200-3300 m asl) at Tungnath, western Himalaya. Four sites, each with two microsites (early snowmelt: ES and late snowmelt: LS) were selected and within each microsite, 3 quadrats (1x1m each) were permanently laid and studied for phenology. Eighty-six species were recorded, of which the proportion of perennial forbs, hemicryptophytes and natives was 90, 84 and 70%, respectively. The early phenophase was noticed in the majority of species in ES microsite than that of LS microsite and the timing of different phenophases varied among microsites. The vegetative phase peaked July (75.6%), while flowering, fruiting and seed maturation phases peaked in August (72.1% and 23.3%, respectively) and 71% species attained the senescence during September. This indicates that species might adapt to the different adaptation to a warming climate. Immediately after the snowmelt 10 species were observed in flowering, while 11 species were in the bud development phase. Comparing 13 common species of the present study with those of past in same or similar study areas indicates that timing and duration of vegetative and flowering phenophase (77% and 69%, respectively) have advanced and lengthened, while fruiting and seed maturation have shortened. Furthermore, phenophase initiation has advanced for flowering (69% species), fruiting (46% species) and senescence (38% species) phases. It seems that the early snowmelt influences spring phenology of herb species on the microsite level and may continue to influence the overall phenology of species for the whole growing season in timberline.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

References

Adhikari BS, Rawat GS, Rai ID, Bharti RR, Bhattacharyya, S (2011). Ecological assessment of timberline ecotone in western Himalaya with special reference to climate change and anthropogenic pressures. IV Annual Report, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India.

Adhikari BS, Kumar R, Singh SP (2018). Early snowmelt impact on herb species composition, diversity and phenology in a western Himalayan treeline ecotone. Tropical Ecology 59(2):365-382.

Anadon-Rosell A, Rixen C, Cherubini P, Wipf S, Hagedorn F, Dawes, MA (2014). Growth and phenology of three dwarf shrub species in a six-year soil warming experiment at the alpine treeline. PLoS One 9(6):100577. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0100577

Arft AM, Walker MD, Gurevitch JETA, Alatalo JM, Bret-Harte MS, Dale M, … Hollister RD (1999). Responses of tundra plants to experimental warming: meta‐analysis of the international tundra experiment. Ecological Monographs 69(4):491-511. https://doi.org/10.1890/0012-9615(1999)069[0491:ROTPTE]2.0.CO;2

Aulitzky H (1961) Lufttemperatur und Luftfeuchtigkeit. Mitt Forstl Bundesversuchsanst Mariabrunn 59:105-125.

Baker BB, Moseley RK (2007). Advancing treeline and retreating glaciers: implications for conservation in Yunnan, PR China. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 39(2):200-209. https://doi.org/10.1657/1523-0430(2007)39[200:ATARGI]2.0.CO;2

Barnett TP, Pierce DW, Hidalgo HG, Bonfils C, Santer BD, Das T, … Cayan DR (2008). Human-induced changes in the hydrology of the western United States. Science 319(5866):1080-1083. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1152538

Batllori E, Camarero JJ, Ninot JM, Gutiérrez E (2009a). Seedling recruitment, survival and facilitation in alpine Pinus uncinata tree line ecotones Implications and potential responses to climate warming. Global Ecology and Biogeography 18(4):460-472. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2009.00464.x

Batllori E, Blanco‐Moreno JM, Ninot JM, Gutiérrez E, Carrillo E (2009b). Vegetation patterns at the alpine treeline ecotone: the influence of tree cover on abrupt change in species composition of alpine communities. Journal of vegetation science 20(5):814-825. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1654-1103.2009.01085.x

Bijalwan R, Vats M, Joshi SP (2013). Plant phenological response to microclimatic variations in an alpine zone of Garhwal Himalaya. Journal of Applied and Natural Science 5(1):47-52. https://doi.org/10.31018/jans.v5i1.280

Bock JH (1976). The effects of increased snowpack on the phenology and seed germinability of selected alpine species. Ecological impacts of snowpack augmentation in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado US Department of the Interior, Division of Atmospheric Water Resources Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, Colorado, USA. pp 265-271.

Callaghan TV, Crawford RM, Eronen M, Hofgaard A, Payette S, Rees WG, … Werkman BR (2002). The dynamics of the tundra-taiga boundary: an overview and suggested coordinated and integrated approach to research. Ambio 3-5.

Camarero JJ, Gutiérrez E (2002). Plant species distribution across two contrasting treeline ecotones in the Spanish Pyrenees. Plant Ecology 162(2):247-257. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020367918521

Campioli M, Leblans N, Michelsen A (2012). Twenty-two years of warming, fertilisation and shading of subarctic heath shrubs promote secondary growth and plasticity but not primary growth. PloS One 7(4):34842. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0034842

Chapin III FS, Shaver GR (1996). Physiological and growth responses of arctic plants to a field experiment simulating climatic change. Ecology 77(3):822-840.

Chapin III FS, Shaver GR, Giblin AE, Nadelhoffer KJ, Laundre JA (1995). Responses of arctic tundra to experimental and observed changes in climate. Ecology 76(3):694-711. https://doi.org/10.2307/1939337

Chen IC, Hill JK, Ohlemüller R, Roy DB, Thomas CD (2011). Rapid range shifts of species associated with high levels of climate warming. Science 333(6045):1024-1026. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1206432

Clow DW (2010). Changes in the timing of snowmelt and streamflow in Colorado: a response to recent warming. Journal of Climate 23(9):2293-2306. https://doi.org/10.1175/2009JCLI2951.1

Cudlín P, Klop M, Tognetti R, Máli F, Alados CL, Bebi P, … Wielgolaski FE (2017). Drivers of treeline shift in different European mountains. Climate Research 73. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01465

Cumming SG, Burton PJ (1996). Phenology-mediated effects of climatic change on some simulated British Columbia forests. Climatic Change 34(2):213-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00224632

Dhar U (2000). Prioritization of conservation sites in the timberline zone of west Himalaya. Setting Biodiversity Conservation Priorities for India 1:193-211.

Doležal J, Šrůtek M (2002). Altitudinal changes in composition and structure of mountain-temperate vegetation: a case study from the Western Carpathians. Plant Ecology 158(2):201-221. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015564303206

Dyer JL, Mote TL (2007). Trends in snow ablation over North America. International Journal of Climatology 27(6):739-748. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.1426

Elmendorf SC, Henry GH, Hollister RD, Björk RG, Bjorkman AD, Callaghan TV, … Fosaa AM (2012). Global assessment of experimental climate warming on tundra vegetation: heterogeneity over space and time. Ecology Letters 15(2):164-175. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01716.x

Evans BM, Walker DA, Benson CS, Nordstrand EA, Petersen GW (1989). Spatial interrelationships between terrain, snow distribution and vegetation patterns at an arctic foothills site in Alaska. Ecography 12(3):270-278. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0587.1989.tb00846.x

Eviner VT, Chapin III FS (2003). Functional matrix: a conceptual framework for predicting multiple plant effects on ecosystem processes. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 34(1):455-485. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.34.011802.132342

Fareed M, Caldwell MM (1975). Phenological patterns of two alpine tundra plant populations on Niwot Ridge, Colorado. Northwest Science 49:17-23.

Giménez‐Benavides L, Escudero A, Iriondo JM (2007). Reproductive limits of a late‐flowering high‐mountain Mediterranean plant along an elevational climate gradient. New Phytologist 173(2):367-382. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8137.2006.01932.x

Gobiet A, Kotlarski S, Beniston M, Heinrich G, Rajczak J, Stoffel M (2014). 21st century climate change in the European Alps – a review. Science of the Total Environment 493:1138-1151. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.07.050

Gorsuch DM, Oberbauer SF (2002). Effects of mid-season frost and elevated growing season temperature on stomatal conductance and specific xylem conductivity of the arctic shrub, Salix pulchra. Tree Physiology 22(14):1027-1034. https://doi.org/10.1093/treephys/22.14.1027

Gottfried M, Pauli H, Futschik A, Akhalkatsi M, Barančok P, Alonso JLB, … Krajči J (2012). Continent-wide response of mountain vegetation to climate change. Nature Climate Change 2(2):111.

Grabherr G, Gottfried M, Pauli H (1994). Climate effects on mountain plants. Nature 369(6480):448.

Grace J, Berninger F, Nagy L (2002). Impacts of climate change on the treeline. Annals of Botany 90(4):537-544. https://doi.org/10.1038/369448a0

Grytnes JA, Kapfer J, Jurasinski G, Birks HH, Henriksen H, Klanderud K, … Birks HJB (2014). Identifying the driving factors behind observed elevational range shifts on European mountains. Global Ecology and Biogeography 23(8):876-884. https://doi.org/10.1111/geb.12170

Hess M, Barralis G, Bleiholder H, Buhr L, Eggers TH, Hack H, Stauss R (1997). Use of the extended BBCH scale—general for the descriptions of the growth stages of mono; and dicotyledonous weed species. Weed Research 37(6):433-441. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-3180.1997.d01-70.x

Holway JG, Ward RT (1965). Phenology of alpine plants in northern Colorado. Ecology 46(1-2):73-83.

Hülber K, Winkler M, Grabherr G (2010). Intraseasonal climate and habitat‐specific variability controls the flowering phenology of high alpine plant species. Functional Ecology 24(2):245-252. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2009.01645.x

Inouye DW, Wielgolaski FE (2003). High altitude climates In: Schwartz, MD (ed) Phenology: an integrative environmental science. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp 564.

Inouye DW (2000). The ecological and evolutionary significance of frost in the context of climate change. Ecology Letters 3(5):457-463. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1461-0248.2000.00165.x

Jones HG, Pomeroy JW, Walker DA, Hoham RW (2001) Snow ecology: an interdisciplinary examination of snow-covered ecosystems. 1st edition Cambridge University Press: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, pp 378.

Kaarlejärvi E, Baxter R, Hofgaard A, Hytteborn H, Khitun O, Molau U, … Olofsson J (2012). Effects of warming on shrub abundance and chemistry drive ecosystem-level changes in a forest-tundra ecotone. Ecosystems 15(8):1219-1233. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-012-9580-9

Kambo D, Danby RK (2017). Constraints on treeline advance in a warming climate: a test of the reproduction limitation hypothesis. Journal of Plant Ecology 11(3):411-422. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpe/rtx009

Keller F, Körner C (2003). The role of photoperiodism in alpine plant development. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 35(3):361-368. https://doi.org/10.1657/1523-0430(2003)035[0361:TROPIA]2.0.CO;2

Kimmins JP, Lavender DP (1992). Ecosystem‐level changes that may be expected in a changing global climate: A British Columbia perspective. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: An International Journal 11(8):1061-1068. https://doi.org/10.1002/etc.5620110803

Körner C (1999). Alpine plants: stressed or adapted? In: Press, M, Scholes, J and Barker, M Physiological Plant Ecology (Eds). 39th Symposium of the British Ecological Society, Cambridge University Press 39:297-311.

Körner C, Basler D (2010). Phenology under global warming. Science 327(5972):1461-1462. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1186473

Körner C (2012a). Alpine treelines: functional ecology of the global high elevation tree limits. Springer Science & Business Media.

Körner C (2012b). Treelines will be understood once the functional difference between a tree and a shrub is. Ambio 41(3):197-206. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-012-0313-2

Körner C (2016a). Plant adaptation to cold climates. F1000Research 5:2769.

Körner C (2016b). When it gets cold, plant size matters–a comment on treeline. Journal of Vegetation Science 27(1):6-7. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12366

Körner C, Basler D, Hoch G, Kollas C, Lenz A, Randin CF, Vitasse Y, Zimmermann NE (2016). Where, why and how? Explaining the low‐temperature range limits of temperate tree species. Journal of Ecology 104(4):1076-1088. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2745.12574

Kudo G (1991). Effects of snow-free period on the phenology of alpine plants inhabiting snow patches. Arctic and alpine research 23(4):436-443.

Kudo G (1992). Performance and phenology of alpine herbs along a snow-melting gradient. Ecological Research 7(3):297-304.

Kudo G, Suzuki S (1999). Flowering phenology of alpine plant communities along a gradient of snowmelt timing. Polar Bioscience 12:100-113.

Kudo G, Hirao AS (2006). Habitat‐specific responses in the flowering phenology and seed set of alpine plants to climate variation: implications for global‐change impacts. Population Ecology 48(1):49-58. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10144-005-0242-z

Kudo G, Ida TY (2013). Early onset of spring increases the phenological mismatch between plants and pollinators. Ecology 94(10):2311-2320. https://doi.org/10.1890/12-2003.1

Laternser M, Schneebeli M (2003). Long‐term snow climate trends of the Swiss Alps (1931-99). International Journal of Climatology 23(7):733-750. https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.912

le Roux PC, Aalto J, Luoto M (2013). Soil moisture's underestimated role in climate change impact modelling in low‐energy systems. Global Change Biology 19(10):2965-2975. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12286

Lenoir J, Gégout JC, Marquet PA, De Ruffray P, Brisse H (2008). A significant upward shift in plant species optimum elevation during the 20th century. Science 320(5884):1768-1771. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1156831

López-Moreno JI (2005). Recent variations of snowpack depth in the Central Spanish Pyrenees. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 37(2):253-260. https://doi.org/10.1657/1523-0430(2005)037[0253:RVOSDI]2.0.CO;2

Mayor JR, Sanders NJ, Classen AT, Bardgett RD, Clément JC, Fajardo A, … Cieraad E (2017). Elevation alters ecosystem properties across temperate treelines globally. Nature 542(7639):91-95. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21027

Miller-Rushing AJ, Høye TT, Inouye DW, Post E (2010). The effects of phenological mismatches on demography. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences 365(1555):3177-3186. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2010.0148

Mohapatra J (2015). The changing face of the alpine ecosystem in the Himalaya. ENVIS Newsletter on Himalayan Ecology 12(2):9.

Mooney HA, Billings WD (1960). The annual carbohydrate cycle of alpine plants as related to growth. American Journal of Botany 47(7):594-598. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1537-2197.1960.tb14911.x

Mote PW, Hamlet AF, Clark MP, Lettenmaier DP (2005). Declining mountain snowpack in western North America. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 86(1):39-50. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-86-1-39

Mote PW, Li S, Lettenmaier DP, Xiao M, Engel R (2018). Dramatic declines in snowpack in the western US. Npj Climate and Atmospheric Science 1(1):2. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41612-018-0012-1

Nautiyal MC, Nautiyal BP, Prakash V (2001). Phenology and growth form distribution in an alpine pasture at Tungnath, Garhwal, Himalaya. Mountain Research and Development 21(2):168-175.

Negi GCS, Rikhari HC, Singh SP (1992). Phenological features in relation to growth forms and biomass accumulation in an alpine meadow of the Central Himalaya. Vegetatio 101(2):161-170.

Odland A, Munkejord HK (2008). Plants as indicators of snow layer duration in southern Norwegian mountains. Ecological Indicators 8(1):57-68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2006.12.005

Owen HE (1976). Phenological development of herbaceous plants in relation to snowmelt date. Ecological impacts of snowpack augmentation in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado US Dept of the Interior, Division of Atmospheric Water Resources Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, Colorado, USA pp 323-341.

Parmesan C (2006). Ecological and evolutionary responses to recent climate change. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 37:637-669. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.37.091305.110100

Parmesan C (2007). Influences of species, latitudes and methodologies on estimates of phenological response to global warming. Global Change Biology 13(9):1860-1872. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2007.01404.x

Pauli H, Gottfried M, Dullinger S, Abdaladze O, Akhalkatsi M, Alonso JLB, … Ghosn D (2012). Recent plant diversity changes on Europe’s mountain summits. Science 336(6079):353-355. Https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1219033

Pauli H, Gottfried M, Reiter K, Klettner C, Grabherr G (2007). Signals of range expansions and contractions of vascular plants in the high Alps: observations (1994-2004) at the GLORIA* master site Schrankogel, Tyrol, Austria. Global Change Biology 13(1):147-156. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01282.x

Peñuelas J, Ogaya R, Boada M, Jump, AS (2007). Migration, invasion and decline: changes in recruitment and forest structure in a warming‐linked shift of European beech forest in Catalonia (NE Spain). Ecography 30(6):829-837.

Pomeroy JW, Brun E (2001). Physical properties of snow. In: Jones HG, Pomeroy JW, Walker DA, Hoham RW (Eds). Snow Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge pp 45-126.

Ram J, Singh SP, Singh JS (1988). Community level phenology of grassland above treeline in central Himalaya, India. Arctic and Alpine Research 20(3):325-332. https://doi.org/10.2307/1551264

Rathcke B, Lacey EP (1985). Phenological patterns of terrestrial plants. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 16(1):179-214. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.es.16.110185.001143

Schickhoff U, Bobrowski M, Böhner J, Bürzle B, Chaudhary RP, Gerlitz L, … Schwab N (2015). Do Himalayan treelines respond to recent climate change? An evaluation of sensitivity indicators. Earth System Dynamics 6(1).

Singh SP (2018). Research on Indian Himalayan treeline ecotone: an overview. Tropical Ecology 59(2):163-176.

Smith JG, Sconiers W, Spasojevic MJ, Ashton IW, Suding KN (2012). Phenological changes in alpine plants in response to increased snowpack, temperature, and nitrogen. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 44(1):135-142. https://doi.org/10.1657/1938-4246-44.1.135

Steinbauer MJ, Grytnes JA, Jurasinski G, Kulonen A, Lenoir J, Pauli H, … Wipf S (2018). Accelerated increase in plant species richness on mountain summits is linked to warming. Nature 556(7700):231. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0005-6

IPCC (2013). Climate change 2013: the physical science basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner G-K, Tignor M, Allen SK, Boschung J, Nauels A, Xia Y, Bex V, Midgley PM (Eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, pp 1535.

Sturm W, Willmes K, Orgass B, Hartje W (1997). Do specific attention deficits need specific training? Neuropsychological Rehabilitation 7(2):81-103. https://doi.org/10.1080/713755526

Sundriyal RC, Joshi AP, Dhasmana R (1987). Phenology of high-altitude plants at Tungnath in the Garhwal Himalaya. Tropical Ecology 28:289-299.

Thackeray SJ, Sparks TH, Frederiksen M, Burthe S, Bacon PJ, Bell JR, … Clutton‐Brock TIM (2010). Trophic level asynchrony in rates of phenological change for marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Global Change Biology 16(12):3304-3313.

Thórhallsdóttir TE (1998). Flowering phenology in the central highland of Iceland and implications for climatic warming in the Arctic. Oecologia 114(1):43-49. https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420050418

Walker DA, Halfpenny JC, Walker MD, Wessman CA (1993). Long-term studies of snow-vegetation interactions. BioScience 43(5):287-301. https://doi.org/10.2307/1312061

Walther GR (2003). Plants in a warmer world. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 6(3):169-185. https://doi.org/10.1078/1433-8319-00076

Walther GR, Beibner S, Burga CA (2005). Trends in the upward shift of alpine plants. Journal of Vegetation Science 16(5):541-548.

Wielgolaski FE, Hofgaard A, Holtmeier FK (2017). Sensitivity to environmental change of the treeline ecotone and its associated biodiversity in European mountains. Climate Research 73(1-2):151-166. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01474

Winkler DE, Butz RJ, Germino MJ, Reinhardt K, Kueppers LM (2018) Snowmelt timing regulates community composition, phenology, and physiological performance of alpine plants. Frontiers in Plant Science 9:1140. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.01140

Wipf S, Rixen C (2010). A review of snow manipulation experiments in Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystems. Polar Research 29(1):95-109. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v29i1.6054

Wipf S, Stöckli V, Herz K, Rixen C (2013). The oldest monitoring site of the Alps revisited: accelerated increase in plant species richness on Piz Linard summit since 1835. Plant Ecology and Diversity 6(3-4):447-455. https://doi.org/10.1080/17550874.2013.764943

Wookey PA, Parsons AN, Welker JM, Potter JA, Callaghan TV, Lee JA, Press MC (1993). Comparative responses of phenology and reproductive development to simulated environmental change in sub-arctic and high arctic plants. Oikos 67(3):490-502. https://doi.org/10.2307/3545361

Published
2020-12-21
How to Cite
ADHIKARI, B. S., & KUMAR, R. (2020). Effect of snowmelt regime on phenology of herbaceous species at and around treeline in Western Himalaya, India. Notulae Scientia Biologicae, 12(4), 901-919. https://doi.org/10.15835/nsb12410716
Section
Research articles
CITATION
DOI: 10.15835/nsb12410716