Table of contents

About this book


Mountain Timberlines is published as part of the broad area of research on the changing global climate and its impact on the environment. The upper timberline is the most conspicuous vegetation limit in high-mountain areas of all continents and islands, except for the Antarctic. The dynamics of timberline establishment and maintenance is being affected by global warming in a number of ways. From a global view point, the present timberline is far from being caused only by the current climate, but instead reflects also history of climate, human impact and local site conditions. It is the objective of the book to highlight the physiognomic and ecological variety of mountain timberlines as well as their regionally and locally varying heterogeneity and temporal dynamics thus giving a complex view of the global timberline pattern.

After an introduction into the complexities of the subject, the history and present state of timberline research are outlined. Chapters on the tree species at timberline and on the relationship of timberline elevation to marcroclimate, climate character and the mass-elevation effect follow. The main chapter deals with the physiognomic and ecological differentiation of altitudinal timberlines, in particular with the timberline controlling physical and biological factors, their interactions and their influence on the spatial structures and temporal dynamics in the timberline ecotone. Also, the feedbacks of trees and tree stands on the timberline environment are considered. This is the base for understanding the response of timberlines to climatically driven changes, which are considered in the last chapters.


Causes of Timberline Ecology Plant Science Timberline Ecology Timberline responses climate change ecotone environment temporal dynamics

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  • Friedrich-Karl Holtmeier
    • 1
  1. 1.Dionysiusstr. 6HavixbeckGermany

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From the reviews of the second edition: “This book is the result of a lifetime’s dedication to research on mountain and polar timberlines worldwide by the leading exponent. … The many sketches of tree forms are a jewel of the author as artist. … this work is a treasure and will remain the basic reference for decades. … Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate through professional collections.” (J. D. Ives, Choice, Vol. 47 (3), November, 2009) Aus den Rezensionen zur 2. Auflage: “... Im Hinblick auf den Klimawandel sind die anschließenden Kapitel zu Waldgrenzschwankungen und zum Forschungsbedarf von besonderem Interesse. ... Im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes erschöpfend ist das ... umfassende Literaturverzeichnis. lm Stichwortverzeichnis kann nach Arten, Orten und Sachbegriffen gesucht werden. Das Buch ist, durchgehend in Schwarz-Weiß, mit eindrucksvollen Fotos und Grafiken reich bebildert. ... Dennoch möchte man als pflanzengegeographisch Interessierter das Buch kaum missen: Wo sonst kann man sich rasch einen Überblick über die Literatur zu den weltweiten Waldgrenzen verschaffen?“ (J.Ewald, in: Berichte der Bayerischen Botanischen Gesellschaft, October/2009, Vol. 79, S. ff.)