Methods for monitoring alpine plant phenology: a pilot study in the Line Creek Plateau Research Natural Area, USA
Keywords:alpine plants, Caltha, Castilleja, climate change, Gentiana, reproductive ecology
Alpine plant phenological traits are studied and several hypotheses about their latitudinal variation are tested within a comparative research project, which is being conducted on groups of plant species for which relationships are inferred from available phylogenies. The study sites for this project are located in tropical Ecuador, semitropical Bolivia and the temperate Rocky Mountains in the USA. Several temperate alpine species occur near the Rocky Mountains Field Station in Colorado and large populations of three alpine target species (Caltha leptosepala, Castilleja pulchella, Gentiana algida) were found at the Line Creek Plateau Research Natural Area, in the Beartooth Range in Montana. This location was initially investigated in August 2018 to choose the study site and test a methodology for collecting plant trait data. This study site, the target plant species and the results of a preliminary study, together with recommendations for the full season monitoring, are discussed in this paper.
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