Richard C. Brusca, John F. Wiens, Wallace M. Meyer, Jeff Eble, Kim Franklin, Jonathan T. Overpeck and Wendy Moore Dramatic response to climate change in the Southwest: Robert Whittaker's 1963 Arizona Mountain plant transect revisited Ecology and Evolution 3
We re-examined Robert Whittaker's 1963 plant transect in the Santa Catalina Mountains of southern Arizona, finding large changes in the elevational ranges of common montane plants over the past 5 decades, during which time mean annual temperatures have increased significantly. Although elevational changes of species are individualistic, significant overall upward movement of the lower elevation boundaries, and elevational range contractions, have occurred. This study confirms that previous hypotheses are correct in their prediction that mountain communities in the Southwest will be strongly impacted by warming, and that the Southwest is already experiencing a rapid vegetation change.
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