The high-altitude treeline is known to be sensitive to climate variability, and is thus considered as a bio-monitoring indicator of climate change. However, our understanding of the population dynamics and the cumulative climate-change effects on the alpine treeline ecotone in recent decades is limited. Here, we investigated the population dynamics of Larix potainii
on the south- and north-facing slopes in the alpine treeline ecotone in the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, China, including treeline position, population density, and tree recruitment. Results showed that on both south- and north-facing slopes, the treeline did not show a significant advancement in the past four decades. The population was dominated by young individuals, which tend to be established in the lower areas. Larix
, here, tends to be clustered, especially in the upper areas. However, population density increased dramatically only on north-facing slopes. Larix
here suffer from the stressful environment, but the warmer winter due to climate warming could facilitate the vertical growth of seedlings and saplings. Aggregated spatial patterns also provide a positive feedback in ameliorating the harsh environment. The slope-climate-moisture interactions have a pronounced impact on tree recruitment, including snow-limited tree establishment on the north-facing slopes and moisture-limited tree establishment on the south-facing slopes.
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