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Title: Investigating the response of subtropical forests to environmental variation through the study of the Abies kawakamii treelines in Taiwan
Author: Greenwood, Sarah
ISNI:       0000 0004 5348 7924
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2014
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Altitudinal treeline advance represents a sensitive and well-studied example of species response to climate warming. Although a great deal of work has been conducted globally, few studies have considered subtropical alpine treelines and little is known about their structure and function. This research aims to investigate the response of high altitude forests in Taiwan to climate variation by characterising treeline advance in the area, exploring the mechanisms driving the advance, and considering the consequences of advance for the wider community. The thesis consists of a general introduction to the topic followed by a series of papers, exploring: (1) Possible consequences of treeline shifts for biodiversity and ecosystem function. (2) The advance of the Abies kawakamii treeline through aerial photograph analysis. (3) The changes in growth rate of Abies kawakamii at treeline and the influence of altitude and temperature on growth. (4) Regeneration patterns at treeline and the importance of microclimate and topographic sheltering. (5) Consequences of the range shift for the wider forest community. The work is then concluded with a general discussion and synthesis. The main aims of this work are therefore to characterise and understand the pattern and pace of treeline advance and forest structural change throughout the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. Treeline advance is characterised through the study of repeat aerial photographs and the mechanisms behind the observed shift are explored through the study of two key responses associated with forest advance: tree growth at treeline and seedling establishment beyond treeline. The consequences of treeline advance for the wider subalpine community are investigated through the study of epiphytic lichen communities at treeline sites. This investigation of an understudied region will allow for improved understanding of treeline response at a global scale.
Supervisor: Jump, Alistair Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Treeline advance ; climate change ; diversity ; ecosystem function ; aerial photographs ; forests ; tree growth ; mixed modelling ; regeneration ; epiphytes ; Fir ; Forest ecology Taiwan ; Conservation biology Tropics ; Climatic changes Environmental aspects ; Forests and forestry