Vegetation Communities of Mount Rainier National Park - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Vegetation Communities of Mount Rainier National Park

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  1. Vegetation Communities of Mount Rainier National Park Lou Whiteaker, Plant Ecologist

  2. Overview of Topics • Distribution of Vegetation Types • Factors Influencing Vegetation • Overview of Long-term Monitoring Projects • Management Issues

  3. Vascular Plant Diversity Source: NP Species 2008

  4. Factors Influencing Vegetation • Climate – temperature, precipitation • Topography – aspect, slope, elevation • Soils- type, age • Natural disturbance regimes • Human use


  5. Forests • Park boundary (1880’) to ~ 5400 to 6400’ elevation • Forest stand ages – 100 to > 1,000 years • Most stand> 350 years old • 350 yr. and 100 yr are the most numerous Hemstrom, M.A. and J.F. Franklin. 1982. Fire and Other Disturbances of the Forests in Mount Rainier National Park. Quarternary Research 18:32-51

  6. Forest Types Low-elevation – Western hemlock/Douglas Fir Tsuga heterophylla/Pseudotsuga menziesii • Western red cedar (Thuja plicata) is a common component • Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) is found in Carbon River drainage • understory species skunk cabbage, Devil’s club, salal, Oregon grape • nonvascular spp are an important component

  7. Forest Types Mid-elevation Forests • Pacific Silver Fir (Abies amablis) • Noble fir (Abies procera) • Alaska yellow cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) • Western white pine (Pinus monticola)

  8. Forest Types High-elevation Forests • Subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) • Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) • Whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) • Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii) • Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta)

  9. Stages of Forest Development Stand Initiation Stem Exclusion Old-growth Understory Reinitiation

  10. Forest Disturbances • Fire** 90% • Snow avalanches 7% • Lahars 2% • Insects • wind • Natural fire rotation – 434 yr. • All but 2 major fires since 1300 A.D. correspond with major droughts • 1230 – 47% of the park forests burned

  11. Forests Insects & Diseases • Introduced pests: balsam woolly adelgid, white pine blister rust • Native pests: Mountain pine beetle, Western balsam bark beetle, Douglas-fir beetle, fir engraver • Frequency and severity may change with climate change

  12. Subalpine Parkland • Extends from forest line to treeline • Mosaic of tree clumps & subalpine meadows

  13. Subalpine Parklands • Snowpack determines location & plant communities • Fire is important at forest line

  14. Alpine Zone • Lower limit is treeline – upright trees • Upper limit – permanent snow and ice Krummholz on Ptarmigan Ridge

  15. High-elevation Vegetation Factors Influencing Vegetation Type & Distribution • Annual temperature mean annual growing season 5-7o C • Snow pack – duration & depth = veg type & height • Length of growing season Growth Form • Type of growth – perennial • Growth forms • Rapid development in short growing season

  16. Subalpine Vegetation • Topography – influences snowmelt patterns (black body effect) • Vegetative growth – tree layering, height above snowpack • Phenology, pollination • Early season – very sensitive to trampling

  17. Alpine Vegetation Abies lasiocarpa seed • Topography & micropotography • Soil development & movement (solifluction, sorted stripes, patterned ground, soil accretion) • Seed availability • Snow cover • Needle ice

  18. Subalpine Communities • Lush Herbaceous • Green Fescue – lupine • Heath-shrub • Low herbaceous • Wet sedge

  19. Alpine Communities • Heather • Fellfield • Talus • Snowbed

  20. Alpine Communities fellfield snowbed talus

  21. Heather Communities • Development • Heather - up to 7,000 years old • Stem ages • High genotypic diversity

  22. Issues

  23. Meadow Restoration:Before

  24. Meadow Restoration: After

  25. Steps in Restoration: Seed Collection Cutting and Seed Collection Volunteer Groups

  26. Greenhouse Propagation

  27. Invasive Plant Control Program Components Research/Surveys/Demographic Studies Priority Setting Prevention Control/Treatment Effectiveness Monitoring/Evaluation Collaboration

  28. Orange hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum)

  29. Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)

  30. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

  31. Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa)

  32. Pinus albicaulis, whitebark pine • five-needle white pine • member of Pinus subsection Cembrae or Stone pines • long-lived tree – up to 700 years, cones produced after 100 years • large, wingless seeds, indehiscent cones

  33. Distribution & Habitat • high-elevation species • Rocky Mountains west to Cascades and northern Sierra Nevada • dry, often wind-swept sites • early successional species

  34. Seed Dispersal of Whitebark Pine • Clark’s Nutcracker removes seeds with beak from cone • carries up to 150 seeds in sublingual pouch • caches seeds up to 10-12 km and 500m in elevation from tree • can retrieve seeds 9 months later

  35. Status of Whitebark Pine • widespread mortality • Eurasian fungus, Blister Rust (Cronartium ribicola) • fire exclusion • Mountain Pine beetles

  36. Blister Rust, Cronartium ribicola • introduced to west ~ 1910 • Ribes sp. alternate host • low levels of resistance in Pinus albicaulis populations • widespread control programs 1920s to 1960s

  37. Blister Rust, Cronartium ribicola Wind blown, up to 500 km Ribes sp. aeciospore Fall teliospores urediniospores basidiospores

  38. Signs of Blister Rust, Dead top of whitebark pine Chlorotic needles, flagging

  39. Climate Change

  40. 1929

  41. 1992

  42. 1929

  43. 1992

  44. 1950

  45. 1992

  46. Paradise Valley

  47. Questions??