College - Author 1
College of Science and Mathematics
Department - Author 1
Biological Sciences Department
Degree Name - Author 1
BS in Biological Sciences
Dena Grossenbacher, College of Science and Mathematics, Biological Sciences Department
Alpine regions are among the hardest hit by global climate change, experiencing rising temperatures at a faster rate than lowland areas. Such fast rates of warming are predicted to cause rapid changes in alpine plant communities, including shifts in plant functional traits along elevation gradients. To investigate these effects within species, we examined the relationship between elevation, aspect, and functional traits of three common alpine plants in California; the shrub Holodiscus discolor var. microphyllus, the forb Calyptridium umbellatum, and the grass Trisetum spicatum. Functional traits examined included plant height, plant width, and Specific Leaf Area (SLA). These traits were measured across an elevation transect in the Sierra Nevada at multiple populations for each of the three focal species. Our findings indicate that there is no relationship between elevation, aspect, and functional trait values of alpine plants. We infer that there are other factors besides elevation and aspect that are responsible for driving functional trait values of alpine plants, and that elevation may not be a good predictor for future population level change under a warming climate.