Date of Award

2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Natural Resources

First Advisor

Aimee T. Classen

Second Advisor

Elizabeth C. Adair

Abstract

Modern climate change is already altering the structure and function ofecosystems around the world in nontrivial ways. Mountain ecosystems in particular will continue to experience a greater magnitude and rate of climatic warming than the global average, threatening the stability of key ecosystem processes like nutrient cycling as well as the supply of benefits from ecosystem services provided by mountains. While significant advancements have been made to address the direct effects of rising temperatures on nutrient cycling dynamics, our understanding of the synergies between the direct effects of warming and the indirect effects of climate change, mediated by the response of plant soil properties, lags behind.

This dissertation leverages a global network of climate changeexperiments in mountains to understand the direct and indirect effects of warming on nutrient cycling and forage resource production in alpine ecosystems around the world. First, I use a series of plant removal experiments distributed across an elevational gradient in the Colorado Rocky Mountains to explore how the effects of biodiversity loss on nitrogen cycling vary across a natural temperature gradient. Second, I identify globally consistent climate change effects on nitrogen and phosphorus cycling across seven sites in the warming and (species) removal (WaRM) network of climate change experiments in mountains. Finally, I focus on a single WaRM network site in the Colorado Rocky Mountains to analyze the effects of climate change on the quality and quantity of forage resource production in a federal rangeland. Taken as a whole, this body of research lends insight to the future of alpine nutrient dynamics in a warmer world and describes opportunities to link empirical evidence from global change experiments to management decisions in order to sustain essential ecosystem services in the face of climate change.

Language

en

Number of Pages

143 p.

Available for download on Sunday, October 22, 2023

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