Abstract Background Fagus sylvatica forms the treeline across the Apennines mountain range, with an average elevation of 1589 m a.s.l. Previous studies evidenced that the current position of the treeline in the Apennines is heavily depressed as a result of a complex interaction between climatic factors and the past human pressure. In this study we correlated treeline elevation in the fifteen major mountain groups in the Apennines with selected climatic, geomorphological, and human disturbance variables in order to investigate in detail the site-specific features affecting the current treeline distribution. Results Treeline elevation was lowest in the North Italy (Apuan Alps), while the highest treeline was found in Central Italy (Simbruini). An absolute maximum treeline elevation of F. sylvatica exceeding 2000 m a.s.l. was found on 13 mountain peaks in Central and Southern Italy. Noteworthy, treeline elevation was largely lower on warmer south-facing slopes compared to northern slopes, with values several hundred meters lower in the Gran Sasso and Velino-Sirente. Although the causes of this pattern are still unknown, we argue that treeline elevation on south-facing slopes may be limited by the combination of climatic constraints (i.e. summer drought) and human disturbance. Evidence of a pervasive anthropogenic effect depressing treeline elevation was found in the North (Apuan Alps) Central (Gran Sasso, Velino-Sirente, Sibillini) and Southern part of Apennines (Pollino). By contrast, treeline elevation of the Laga, Simbruini, and Orsomarso mountain groups appears less affected by past anthropogenic disturbance. Finally, we recorded in the several mountain groups (i.e. Majella, Marsicani and Pollino) the coexistence of very depressed treelines just a few kilometers away from much higher treelines, among the highest ever recorded for F. sylvatica. Conclusions Finally, we argue that F. sylvatica treeline across the Apennines is locally shaped both by the interaction of low temperatures experienced by the species in its earliest life stages in snow-free open spaces with summer soil water depletion and human disturbance.

Climatic and anthropogenic factors explain the variability of Fagus sylvatica treeline elevation in fifteen mountain groups across the Apennines

Giulio Tesei;Marina Allegrezza;
2020-01-01

Abstract

Abstract Background Fagus sylvatica forms the treeline across the Apennines mountain range, with an average elevation of 1589 m a.s.l. Previous studies evidenced that the current position of the treeline in the Apennines is heavily depressed as a result of a complex interaction between climatic factors and the past human pressure. In this study we correlated treeline elevation in the fifteen major mountain groups in the Apennines with selected climatic, geomorphological, and human disturbance variables in order to investigate in detail the site-specific features affecting the current treeline distribution. Results Treeline elevation was lowest in the North Italy (Apuan Alps), while the highest treeline was found in Central Italy (Simbruini). An absolute maximum treeline elevation of F. sylvatica exceeding 2000 m a.s.l. was found on 13 mountain peaks in Central and Southern Italy. Noteworthy, treeline elevation was largely lower on warmer south-facing slopes compared to northern slopes, with values several hundred meters lower in the Gran Sasso and Velino-Sirente. Although the causes of this pattern are still unknown, we argue that treeline elevation on south-facing slopes may be limited by the combination of climatic constraints (i.e. summer drought) and human disturbance. Evidence of a pervasive anthropogenic effect depressing treeline elevation was found in the North (Apuan Alps) Central (Gran Sasso, Velino-Sirente, Sibillini) and Southern part of Apennines (Pollino). By contrast, treeline elevation of the Laga, Simbruini, and Orsomarso mountain groups appears less affected by past anthropogenic disturbance. Finally, we recorded in the several mountain groups (i.e. Majella, Marsicani and Pollino) the coexistence of very depressed treelines just a few kilometers away from much higher treelines, among the highest ever recorded for F. sylvatica. Conclusions Finally, we argue that F. sylvatica treeline across the Apennines is locally shaped both by the interaction of low temperatures experienced by the species in its earliest life stages in snow-free open spaces with summer soil water depletion and human disturbance.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11566/283285
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