We appreciate the assistance of Rocky Mountain National Park personnel, including Dave Stevens and Craig Axtell, and the help of Tom Stohlgren and Rich Bachand with logistics. Thanks to Jaro Hofierka for help with the r.sun program. This research was supported by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Global Change Research Program Project COLR-R92-0189 under cooperative agreement CA 1268–1–9009.
Landscape Analysis of the Forest-Tundra Ecotone in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado*
Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
The Professional Geographer
Volume 47, Issue 4, pages 361–375, November 1995
How to Cite
Baker, W. L. and Weisberg, P. J. (1995), Landscape Analysis of the Forest-Tundra Ecotone in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. The Professional Geographer, 47: 361–375. doi: 10.1111/j.0033-0124.1995.00361.x
- Issue online: 28 JUN 2008
- Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
- Initial submission, November 1994; revised submission, February 1995; final acceptance, April 1995.
- landscape ecology;
- forest-tundra ecotone;
- global change
Landscapes in the ecotone between forest and tundra contain a mosaic of patches of trees, meadows, lakes, disturbed areas, and other features. The structure of this mosaic affects species habitat and potential ecotone response to global change. However, the alpine forest-tundra ecotone may be insensitive to climatic change if it is a climatic relict or is frequently disturbed. We used GIS and multivariate statistics to (1) analyze landscape structure in transects across the ecotone in Rocky Mountain National Park, (2) identify the major variants of forest-tundra ecotone, and (3) identify the influence of the environment and natural disturbances on variation in the landscape structure of the ecotone. There are six major types of ecotone varying in the amount of natural disturbances, permanent features (e.g., lakes), closed forest, patch forest, and krummholz. Variation is primarily related to slope, elevation, aspect, and geology associated with the morphology of the mountains and the disturbances they produce. The ecotone is not strongly structured by natural disturbances; thus, it may be more strongly controlled by and sensitive to climatic change than in areas where disturbance is more prevalent. Monitoring of potential ecotone response to global change is feasible, if tailored to the types of ecotone and their expected response.