In the Great Basin, limber pine is a sub-alpine tree species that is colonizing newly available habitat above treeline in greater numbers than treeline-dominating Great Basin bristlecone pine, especially on dolomite soil, where few plants are able to grow and where limber pine adults are rare. To examine the role of soil type on germination and establishment of limber pine, I sowed limber pine seeds in containers of the three main White Mountains soil types in one location while measuring soil moisture and temperature. I found that dolomite soil retains water longer, and has higher soil water content, than quartzite and granite soils and has the coolest maximum growing season temperatures. Limber pine germination and survival were highest in dolomite soil relative to quartzite and granite where limber pine adults are more common. While adult limber pines are rare on dolomite soils, young limber pines appear to prefer them. This indicates that limber pine either has only recently been able to survive in treeline climate on dolomite or that bristlecone pine has some long-term competitive advantage on dolomite making limber pine, a species with 1500 year old individuals, an early succession species in Great Basin sub-alpine forests.
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