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  1. Abstract

    High elevation alpine ecosystems—the ‘water towers of the world’—provide water for human populations around the globe. Active geomorphic features such as glaciers and permafrost leave alpine ecosystems susceptible to changes in climate which could also lead to changing biogeochemistry and water quality. Here, we synthesize recent changes in high-elevation stream chemistry from multiple sites that demonstrate a consistent and widespread pattern of increasing sulfate and base cation concentrations or fluxes. This trend has occurred over the past 30 years and is consistent across multiple sites in the Rocky Mountains of the United States, western Canada, the European Alps, the Icelandic Shield, and the Himalayas in Asia. To better understand these recent changes and to examine the potential causes of increased sulfur and base cation concentrations in surface waters, we present a synthesis of global records as well as a high resolution 33 year record of atmospheric deposition and river export data from a long-term ecological research site in Colorado, USA. We evaluate which factors may be driving global shifts in stream chemistry including atmospheric deposition trends and broad climatic patterns. Our analysis suggests that recent changes in climate may be stimulating changes to hydrology and/or geomorphic processes, which inmore »turn lead to accelerated weathering of bedrock. This cascade of effects has broad implications for the chemistry and quality of important surface water resources.

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  2. Abstract Background Distributional responses by alpine taxa to repeated, glacial-interglacial cycles throughout the last two million years have significantly influenced the spatial genetic structure of populations. These effects have been exacerbated for the American pika ( Ochotona princeps ), a small alpine lagomorph constrained by thermal sensitivity and a limited dispersal capacity. As a species of conservation concern, long-term lack of gene flow has important consequences for landscape genetic structure and levels of diversity within populations. Here, we use reduced representation sequencing (ddRADseq) to provide a genome-wide perspective on patterns of genetic variation across pika populations representing distinct subspecies. To investigate how landscape and environmental features shape genetic variation, we collected genetic samples from distinct geographic regions as well as across finer spatial scales in two geographically proximate mountain ranges of eastern Nevada. Results Our genome-wide analyses corroborate range-wide, mitochondrial subspecific designations and reveal pronounced fine-scale population structure between the Ruby Mountains and East Humboldt Range of eastern Nevada. Populations in Nevada were characterized by low genetic diversity (π = 0.0006–0.0009; θ W  = 0.0005–0.0007) relative to populations in California (π = 0.0014–0.0019; θ W  = 0.0011–0.0017) and the Rocky Mountains (π = 0.0025–0.0027; θ W  = 0.0021–0.0024), indicating substantial genetic drift in these isolated populations. Tajima’s D wasmore »positive for all sites ( D  = 0.240–0.811), consistent with recent contraction in population sizes range-wide. Conclusions Substantial influences of geography, elevation and climate variables on genetic differentiation were also detected and may interact with the regional effects of anthropogenic climate change to force the loss of unique genetic lineages through continued population extirpations in the Great Basin and Sierra Nevada.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. Abstract Rapid climate warming is altering Arctic and alpine tundra ecosystem structure and function, including shifts in plant phenology. While the advancement of green up and flowering are well-documented, it remains unclear whether all phenophases, particularly those later in the season, will shift in unison or respond divergently to warming. Here, we present the largest synthesis to our knowledge of experimental warming effects on tundra plant phenology from the International Tundra Experiment. We examine the effect of warming on a suite of season-wide plant phenophases. Results challenge the expectation that all phenophases will advance in unison to warming. Instead, we find that experimental warming caused: (1) larger phenological shifts in reproductive versus vegetative phenophases and (2) advanced reproductive phenophases and green up but delayed leaf senescence which translated to a lengthening of the growing season by approximately 3%. Patterns were consistent across sites, plant species and over time. The advancement of reproductive seasons and lengthening of growing seasons may have significant consequences for trophic interactions and ecosystem function across the tundra.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
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