Masthead: Kaweah Range

Nature Notes Archives: Plants

“Live fast, die young” also applies to forests
Nathan L. Stephenson
Phillip J. van Mantgem

USGS Western Ecological Research Center, Sequoia and Kings Canyon Field Station

How might global climate change affect forests? How fast a forest renews itself may affect how fast it will respond to the climate changes expected in the future. Environmental changes that increase forest productivity may also increase forest turnover rates, with the potential for cascading effects on wildlife, biodiversity, and forest carbon storage.

A vegetation transect along the Sierran Pacific Crest Trail
Rob York1, Jennifer McElhaney2, John Battles2
1Center for Forestry, University of California- Berkeley.
2Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy, and Mangement, University of California- Berkeley.

Beginning at the Mexican border, the Pacific Crest Trail runs 2,650 miles along the spine of the Sierra Nevada, ending at the Canadian border. On the way, thru-hikers have a fantastic opportunity to become aware of different biomes and the conditions that foster them.

How has climatic variation influenced treeline dynamics in the past?
Andrea H. Lloyd

Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Middlebury College

For most of the past 3,500 years, Sierra treeline was higher than it is today. From treerings and remnant stands of ancient Foxtail pines, scientists are able to reconstruct the climatic conditions that cause treeline to fluctuate as well as how global warming might influence treeline in the future.

Estimated Ages of Some Large Giant Sequoias:
General Sherman Keeps Getting Younger

Nathan L. Stephenson, Ph.D
U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, Sequoia and Kings Canyon Field Station.

Although still venerable, recent work by Dr. Stephenson finds that Giant Sequoias aren't quite as old as previously thought. Alas.

Mapping Sequoia & Kings Canyon's Vegetation:
From Muhlenbergia filiformis to Sequoiadendron giganteum

By Laura Pilewski Vegetation-mapping crew field botanist, Sequoia National Park

Follow a small band of botanists as they roam alpine peaks mapping and inventorying the flowers and plants of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Vernal Pools - Ephemeral Oasis of the Foothills
by Alisa Durgarian, M.A., CSU Fresno

Nestled among the grasses and oaks of the foothills along the Sierra's west slope, vernal pools are an unheralded but vital part of that oak/grassland community. Biologist Alisa Durgarian explains the unique conditions that form their incredible diversity and where to see them.

Sierran Treeline Dynamics in a Changing Climate
by Andrew G. Bunn
PhD Candidate
Department of Land Resources and Environmental Science
Montana State University

Hikers on the John Muir Trail might wonder at the expanses of wind blasted snags far above the present living forest. When did those trees live? How did they die? What does global warming mean for Sierran forests?

Fire Regimes
in Sierran Mixed-Conifer Forests

by Dr. Thomas W. Swetnam and
Mr. Christopher H. Baisan

Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research,The University of Arizona

Fire is a vital part of the Sierra forest ecosystem. Tree-ring analyses allows scientists to date the frequency and intensity of natural fires to better understand the role between climate cycles and fire frequency.


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Kaweahs From Trailcrest, Kings Canyon National Park
© 2009, Howard Weamer