Patterns of Tree Establishment Following Glacier-Induced Floods in Southern Patagonia

  • Claudia M. Guerrido
  • Ricardo Villalba
  • Mariano M. Amoroso
  • Milagros Rodríguez-Catón


Whereas tree establishment after large-scale disturbances such as fires, avalanches, and landslides have been documented for Patagonian forests, information on forest recovery following floods is scarce. Glaciar Perito Moreno has remained stable throughout the twentieth century, reaching the Peninsula de Magallanes several times and embalming parts of Lago Argentino. Following each ice-dam flood, the Nothofagus forests along the flooded shores die. We combined dendrochronology and spatial statistics to describe forest recolonization following the episodic flood caused by this glacier in 1988. Four tree species recolonized the lakeshores after the flood. Tree establishment started during spring-summer 1988–1989, the growing season following the break of the ice dam in February 1988. More than 60% of the trees were established between the years 1994–2000, suggesting a rapid colonization of bare shores after the ice-dam break. Using Ripley’s spatial analysis, a 100% significant association between species was recorded at sites where two or more species were present. Species dominance was largely modulated by the composition of neighboring non-flooded forests and the climatic conditions along the precipitation gradient. While rates of tree colonization are influenced by species and their seed dispersal capacities, the grouping patterns by site may be modulated by differences in substrate and microclimatic conditions.


Dendrochronology Forest dynamics Nothofagus Spatial analysis 



The authors would like to thank to the Administración de Parques Nacionales for granting us the permits to conduct our research and to Hielo y Aventura S.A. for invaluable field assistance. This work was financially supported by a scholarship for the training of doctoral student (PRH 13 PFDT ANPCyT – UNPA – UART) and the following research projects: PICT 00215 ANPCyT and CONICET (PIP 112-2011010-0809 to R.V.). R.V. acknowledges the support of the BNP-PARIBAS Foundation through the THEMES Project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia M. Guerrido
    • 1
  • Ricardo Villalba
    • 2
  • Mariano M. Amoroso
    • 3
    • 4
  • Milagros Rodríguez-Catón
    • 2
  1. 1.ICASUR-UART Instituto Ciencias del Ambiente Sustentabilidad y Recursos Naturales, Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia AustralRío TurbioArgentina
  2. 2.Instituto Argentino de Glaciología, Nivología y Ciencias Ambientales IANIGLA-CONICET-MendozaMendozaArgentina
  3. 3.IRNAD Instituto de Investigaciones en Recursos Naturales, Agroecología y Desarrollo Rural, Sede Andina, Universidad Nacional de Río NegroBolsónArgentina
  4. 4.Consejo de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, CCT – Patagonia NorteS. C. de BarilocheArgentina

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