Ecotones as Complex Arenas of Disturbance, Climate, and Human Impacts: The Trans-Andean Forest-Steppe Ecotone of Northern Patagonia



Terrestrial ecotones are possibly the most dynamic regions of the world where global change impacts will earlier become most evident. It has been therefore suggested that ecotones could be considered indicators of global changes where monitoring efforts should be primarily directed (di Castri et al. 1988; Nielson 1991). A basic assumption for this is that small changes in some (limiting) condition, bottom up resource or top down process will, when approaching some threshold, produce rapid and abrupt responses such as shifts in the distribution of dominant species and associated communities or patches.


Fire Frequency Fire Regime Fire Interval Nothofagus Forest Shade Tolerant Tree 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Abarzúa AM, Moreno PI (2008) Changing fire regimes in the temperate rainforest region of southern Chile over the last 16,000 yr. Quat Res 69:62–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aguiar MR, Sala OE (1994) Competition, facilitation, seed distribution and the origin of patches in a Patagonian steppe. Oikos 70:26–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aizen MA, Ezcurra C (2008) Do leaf margins of the temperate forest flora of southern South America reflect a warmer past? Glob Ecol Biogeogr 17:164–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen CD, Macalady AK, Chenchouni H, Bachelet D, McDowell N, Vennetier M, Kitzberger T, Rigling A, Breshears DD, Hogg EH, Gonzalez P, Fensham R, Zhang Z, Castro J, Demidova N, Lim J, Allard G. Running SW, Semerci A & N Cobb (2010) A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests. Forest Ecology and Management 259:660–684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Armesto JJ, Manuschevich D, Mora A, Smith-Ramirez C, Rozzi R, Abarzúa AM, Marquet PA (2010) From the Holocene to the Anthropocene: a historical framework for land cover change in southwestern South America in the past 15,000 years. Land Use Policy 27:148–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arroyo MK, Cavieres L, Peãloza A, Riveros M, Faggi AM (1995) Relaciones fitogeorgáficas y patrones regionales de riqueza de especies en la flora del bosque lluvioso templado de Sudamérica. In: Armesto JJ, Villagrán C, Arroyo MK (eds) Ecología de los bosques nativos de Chile. Editorial Universitaria, Santiago, Chile, pp 71–92Google Scholar
  7. Barrios-García MN, Relva MA, Kitzberger T (2012) Patterns of use and damage by exotic deer on native plant communities in northwestern Patagonia. Eur J Wildl Res 58:137–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Besoaín E (1985) Los suelos. In: Toso J (ed) Suelos volcánicos de Chile. Instituto de Investigaciones Agropecuaria (INIA), Ministerio de Agricultura, Santiago, Chile, pp 25–95Google Scholar
  9. Bond WJ, Woodward FI, Midgley GF (2005) The global distribution of ecosystems in a world without fire. New Phytol 165:525–538PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burgos JJ (1985) Clima del extremo sur de Sudamerica. In: Boelcke O, Moore DM, Roig FA (eds) Transecta Botánica de la Patagonia Austral, CONICET. Argentina, Inst. Patagonia Chile & Royal Society Great Britain, Buenos Aires, pp 10–40Google Scholar
  11. Cox G (1863) Viajes a las regiones septentrionales de Patagonia 1862–1863. An Univ Chile 23(3–239):437–509Google Scholar
  12. Curth De Torres, Mónica I, Ghermandi L, Pfister G (2008) Los incendios en el noroeste de la Patagonia: su relación con las condiciones meteorológicas y la presión antrópica a lo largo de 20 años. Ecol Austral 18:153–167Google Scholar
  13. Daniels LD, Veblen TT (2004) Spatiotemporal influences of climate on altitudinal treeline in northern Patagonia. Ecology 85:1284–1296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Di Castri F, Hansen AJ, Holland MM (1988) A new look at ecotones. Emerging international projects on landscape boundaries. Special Issue 17- Biology International. IUBS, p 161Google Scholar
  15. Dillehay T (ed) (1997) The archaeological context, vol. II of Monte Verde: a late Pleistocene settlement in Chile. Smithsonian, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  16. Ezcurra C, Brion CAM (2005) Plantas del Nahuel Huapi. Catálogo de la Flora Vascular del Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, Argentina. In: Bavaria (ed) San Carlos de Bariloche, pp 1–70Google Scholar
  17. Fonck F (1896) Libro de los diarios de Fray Francisco Menéndez. In: Niemeyer CF Valparaiso, ChileGoogle Scholar
  18. Gaitán JJ, López CR (2007) Análisis del gradiente edáfico en la región andinopatagónica. Cienc Suelo 25:53–63Google Scholar
  19. Gil A, Zárate M, Neme G (2005) Mid-Holocene paleoenvironmentsand the archeological record of southern Mendoza, Argentina. Quat Int 132:81–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gobbi M, Schlichter T (1998) Survival of Austrocedrus chilensis seedlings in relation to microsite conditions and forest thinning. For Ecol Manage 111:137–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gowda JH, Kitzberger T, Premoli AC (2012) Landscape responses to a century of land use along the northern Patagonian forest-steppe transition. Plant Ecol 213:259–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heinemann K (2007) Aspectos espaciales y temporales del establecimiento de Nothofagus pumilio en claros de bosques maduros en los extremos de un gradiente ambiental en el Noroeste de la Patagonia. Doctoral Thesis Biology. Universidad Nacional del ComauheGoogle Scholar
  23. Heinemann K, Kitzberger T (2006) Effects of position, understorey vegetation and coarse woody debris on tree regeneration in two environmentally contrasting forests of north-western Patagonia: a manipulative approach. J Biogeogr 33:1357–1367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Heinemann K, Kitzberger T, Veblen TT (2000) Influences of gap microheterogeneity on the regeneration of Nothofagus pumilio in a xeric old-growth forest of northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. Can J For Res 30:25–31Google Scholar
  25. Holmgren M (2000) Combined effects of shade and drought on tulip poplar seedlings: trade-off in tolerance or facilitation? Oikos 90:67–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hueck K (1978) Los bosques de Sudamérica. GTZ. Hoehl Druck, Bad Hersfeld, Alemania, p 476Google Scholar
  27. INDEC (2001) Censo Nacional de Poblacion, Hogares y Viviendas 2001.
  28. Kitzberger T (1994) Fire regime variation along a northern Patagonian forest-steppe gradient: stand and landscape response. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USAGoogle Scholar
  29. Kitzberger T, Veblen TT (1997) Influences of humans and ENSO on fire history of Austrocedrus chilensis woodlands in northern Patagonia, Argentina. Ecoscience 4:508–520Google Scholar
  30. Kitzberger T, Veblen TT (1999) Fire-induced changes in northern Patagonian landscapes. Landsc Ecol 14:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kitzberger T, Veblen TT, Villalba R (1997) Climatic influences on fire regimes along a rainforest-to-xeric woodland gradient in northern Patagonia, Argentina. J Biogeogr 23:35–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kitzberger T, Pérez A, Iglesias G, Premoli AC, Veblen TT (2000a) Distribución y estado de conservación del alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides (Mol.) Johnst.) en Argentina. Bosque 21:79–89Google Scholar
  33. Kitzberger T, Steinaker DF, Veblen TT (2000b) Effects of climatic variability on facilitation of tree establishment in northern Patagonia. Ecology 81:1914–1924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kitzberger T, Swetnam TW, Veblen TT (2001) Inter-hemispheric synchrony of forest fires and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 10:315–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kitzberger T, Raffaele E, Heinemann K, Mazzarino MJ (2005) Effects of fire severity in a north Patagonian subalpine forest. J Veg Sci 16:5–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kitzberger T, Souto C, Premoli A (2009) The ghost of fragmentation past: habitat suitability models and genetic markers help unveil dry forest non-equilibrium landscapes in northern Patagonia. 2009 Latin American IALE Conference, Campos de Jordao, BrazilGoogle Scholar
  37. Kitzberger T, Aráoz E, Gowda JH, Mermoz M, Morales JM (2012) Decreases in fire spread probability with forest age promotes alternative community states, reduced resilience to climate variability and large fire regime shifts. Ecosystems 15:97–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kleinebecker T, Holzel N, Vogel A (2007) Gradients of continentality and moisture in South Patagonian ombrotrophic peatland vegetation. Folia Geobot 42:363–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kupfer JA, Cairns DM (1996) The suitability of montane ecotones as indicators of global climatic change. Prog Phys Geogr 20:253–272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. LaManna L, Mateucci SD, Kitzberger T (2008) Abiotic factors related to the incidence of the Austrocedrus chilensis disease syndrome at a landscape scale. Forest Ecol Manage 256:1087–1095CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lara A, Rutherford P, Montory C, Bran D, Pérez A, Clayton S, Ayesa J, Barrios D, Gross M, Iglesias G (2000) Vegetación de la Eco-región de los Bosques Valdivianos Escala 1:500.000. Informe Final Proyecto Binacional Chile–Argentina UACh—INTAAPN–FVSA: Boletín Técnico Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina, Nº51Google Scholar
  42. Lara A, Villalba R, Wolodarsky-Franke A, Aravena JC, Luckman BH, Cuq E (2005) Spatial and temporal variation in Nothofagus pumilio growth at tree line along its latitudinal range (35°40′–55°S) in the Chilean Andes. J Biogeogr 32:879–893CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Letourneau FJ, Andenmatten E, Schlichter T (2004) Effect of climatic conditions and tree size on Austrocedrus chilensis-shrub interactions in northern Patagonia. Forest Ecol Manage 191:29–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Markgraf V, Anderson L (1994) Fire history of Patagonia: climate versus human cause. Rev Inst Geogr S Paulo 15:33–47Google Scholar
  45. Markgraf V, Diaz HF (2000) The past ENSO record: a synthesis. In: Diaz HF, Markgraf V (eds) El Nino and the Southern Oscillation; multiscale variability and global and regional impacts. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 465–488Google Scholar
  46. Markgraf V, Betancourt J, Rylander KA (1997) Late-Holocene rodent middens from Rio Limay, Neuquen Province, Argentina. Holocene 7:325–329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McGlone M, Kershaw PA, Markgraf V (1992) El Nino/Southern Oscillation climatic variability in Australasian and South American paleoenvironmental records. In: Diaz HF, Markgraf V (eds) El Nino, Historical and Paleoclimatic aspects of the Southern Oscillation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp 435–462Google Scholar
  48. Mermoz M, Kitzberger T, Veblen TT (2005) Landscape influences on occurrence and spread of wildfires in Patagonian forests and shrublands. Ecology 86:2705–2715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Miller RF, Heyerdahl EK (2008) Fine-scale variation of historical fire regimes in sagebrush-steppe and juniper woodland: an example from California, USA. Int J Wildland Fire 17:245–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Morales D, LaManna L, Buduba C (2010) Propiedades químicas de suelos desarrollados sobre distintos materiales originales bajo bosques de Austrocedrus chilensis. Rev FCA UN Cuyo 42:185–200Google Scholar
  51. Moreno PI (2004) Millennial-scale climate variability in northwest Patagonia over the last 15 000 yr. J Quat Sci 19:35–47CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Moreno PI, Jacobson GL, Lowell TV, Denton GH (2001) Interhemispheric climate links revealed by a late-glacial cooling episode in southern Chile. Nature 409:804–808PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Morgan P, Defoseé GE, Rodriguez NF (2003) Management implications of fire and climate in Western Americas. In: Veblen TT, Baker W, Montenegro G, Swetnam TW (eds) Fire and climatic changes in temperate ecosystems of the Western Americas. Springer, New York, pp 413–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Musters GC (1871) At home with the Patagonians: a year’s wanderings over untrodden ground from the straits of Magellan to the Rio Negro. John Murray, LondonGoogle Scholar
  55. Neira E, Verscheure H, Revenga C (2002) Chile’s frontier forests: conserving a global treasure. World Resources Institute, Comité Nacional Pro Defensa de la Fauna y Flora, Universidad Austral de ChileGoogle Scholar
  56. Nielson RP (1991) Climatic constraints and issues of scale controlling regional biomes pp. 31–51. In: Holl MM, Risser PG, Naiman RJ (eds) Ecotones. The role of landscape boundaries in the management and restoration of changing environments. Chapman and Hall, New York, p 142Google Scholar
  57. Paruelo JM, Aguiar MR, Golluscio RA, Leon RJC, Pujol G (1993) Environmental controls of the NDVI dynamics in Patagonia based on NOAA-AVHRR satellite data. J Veg Sci 4:425–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Paruelo JM, Beltrán A, Jobbágy E, Sala OE, Golluscio RA (1998) The climate of Patagonia: general patterns and controls on biotic processes. Ecol Austral 8:85–101Google Scholar
  59. Pastorino MJ, Gallo L (2004) Los cipreses de Pilcaniyeu. El extremo más árido de la distribución natural del ciprés de la cordillera. Presencia 16:17–19Google Scholar
  60. Raffaele E, Veblen TT (1998) Facilitation by nurse shrubs of resprouting behavior in a post-fire shrubland in northern Patagonia, Argentina. J Veg Sci 9:693–698CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Raffaele E, Veblen TT, Blackhall M, Tercero-Bucardo N (2011) Synergistic influences of introduced herbivores and fire on vegetation change in northern Patagonia, Argentina. J Veg Sci 22:59–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Rapoport EH (1982) Areography: geographical strategies of species. Pergamon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  63. Relva MA, Veblen TT (1998) Impacts of introduced large herbivores on Austrocedrus chilensis forests in northern Patagonia, Argentina. Forest Ecol Manage 108:27–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Relva MA, Westerholm CL, Kitzberger T (2009) Effects of introduced ungulates on forest understory communities in northern Patagonia are modified by timing and severity of stand mortality. Plant Ecol 201:11–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rodó X, Rodriguez-Arias MA (2004) El Nino-Southern oscillation: absent in the early Holocene? J Clim 17:423–426CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rothkugel M (1916) Los bosques patagónicos. Ministerio de Agricultura, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  67. Rozzi J, Silander JJ, Armesto PF, Massardo F (2000) Three levels of integrating ecology with the conservation of South American temperate forests: the initiative of the Institute of Ecological Research Chiloé. Chile Biodiv Conserv 9:1199–1217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sabatier Y, Azpilicueta MAM, Marchelli P, González-Peñalba M, Lozano L, García L, Martinez A, Gallo LA, Umaña F, Bran D, Pastorino MJ (2011) Distribución natural de Nothofagus alpina y Nothofagus obliqua (nothofagaceae) en Argentina, dos especies de primera importancia forestal de los bosques templados norpatagónicos. Bol Soc Argent Bot 46:131–138Google Scholar
  69. Salemme MC, Miotti L (2008) Archeological hunter-gatherer landscapes since the latest Pleistocene in Fuego-Patagonia. In: Rabassa J (ed) The Late Cenozoic of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Elsevier B.V. ISBN: 9780444529541, pp 437–483 [Developments in Quaternary Sciences 11:1–513]Google Scholar
  70. Schlichter TM, Laclau P (1998) Ecotono estepa-bosque y plantaciones forestales en la Patagonia norte. Ecología Austral, 8(2), 285–296CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Schulze ED, Mooney HA, Sala OE, Jobbagy E, Buchmann N, Bauer G, Canadell J, Jackson RB, Loreti J, Oesterheld M, Ehleringer JR (1996) Rooting depth, water availability, and vegetation cover along an aridity gradient in Patagonia. Oecologia 108:503–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Smith T, Huston M (1989) A theory of the spatial and temporal dynamics of plant communities. Plant Ecol 83:49–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Speziale KL, Ezcurra C (2011) Patterns of alien plant invasions in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina. J Arid Environ 75:890–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Speziale KL, Ruggiero A, Ezcurra C (2010) Plant species richness-environment relationships across the Subantarctic-Patagonian transition zone. J Biogeogr 37:449–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Suarez ML, Kitzberger T (2008) Recruitment patterns following a severe drought: long-term compositional shifts in Patagonian forests. Can J For Res 38:3002–3010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Suarez ML, Kitzberger T (2010) Differential effects of climate variability on forest dynamics along a precipitation gradient in northern Patagonia. J Ecol 98:1023–1034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Suarez ML, Ghermandi L, Kitzberger T (2004) Factors predisposing episodic drought-induced tree mortality in Nothofagus: site, climatic sensitivity and growth trends. J Ecol 92:954–966CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Swetnam TW, Betancourt JL (1990) Fire–southern oscillation relations in the southwestern United States. Science 249:1017–1020PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Tercero-Bucardo N (2009) Trayectoria sucesional posfuego con clima alterado e historia de regeneración en bosques templados de Nothofagus de Argentina. Doctoral Thesis Biology. Universidad Nacional del ComahueGoogle Scholar
  80. Tercero-Bucardo N, Kitzberger T, Veblen TT, Raffaele E (2007) A field experiment on climatic and herbivore impacts on post-fire tree regeneration in north-western Patagonia. J Ecol 95:771–779CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Veblen TT (1983) Degradation of native forest resources in southern Chile. In: Steen HK (ed) History of sustained-yield forests: a symposium. Forest History Society, Durham, NCGoogle Scholar
  82. Veblen TT (1989) Tree regeneration responses to gaps along a transandean gradient. Ecology 70:541–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Veblen TT (2007) Temperate Forests of the Southern Andean Region Pp. 217–231. In: Veblen TT, Young KR, Orme AR (eds) The Physical Geography of South America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, p 361Google Scholar
  84. Veblen TT, Ashton D (1978) Catastrophic influences on the vegetation of the Valdivian Andes, Chile. Plant Ecol 36:149–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Veblen TT, Lorenz DC (1987) Post-fire stand development of Austrocedrus–Nothofagus forests in Patagonia. Vegetatio 73:113–126Google Scholar
  86. Veblen TT, Lorenz DC (1988) Recent vegetation changes along the forest/steppe ecotone in northern Patagonia. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 78:93–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Veblen TT, Schlegel FM, Escobar B (1980) Structure and dynamics of old-growth Nothofagus forests in the Valdivian Andes, Chile. J Ecol 68:1–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Veblen TT, Mermoz M, Martin C, Ramilo E (1989) Effects of exotic deer on forest regeneration and composition in northern Patagonia. J Appl Ecol 26:711–724CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Veblen TT, Mermoz M, Martin C, Kitzberger T (1992a) Ecological impacts of introduced animals in Nahuel Huapi National Park, Argentina. Conserv Biol 6:71–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Veblen TT, Kitzberger T, Lara A (1992b) Disturbance and vegetation dynamics along a transect from rain forest to Patagonian shrublands. J Veg Sci 3:507–520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  91. Veblen TT, Donoso C, Kitzberger T, Rebertus AJ (1996) Ecology of southern Chilean and southern Argentinean Nothofagus forests. In: Veblen TT, Hill RS, Read J (eds) Ecology and biogeography of Nothofagus forests. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  92. Veblen TT, Kitzberger T, Villalba R, Donnegan J (1999) Fire history in northern Patagonia: the roles of humans and climatic variation. Ecol Monogr 69:47–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Veblen TT, Kitzberger T, Raffaele E, Lorenz DC (2003) Fire history and vegetation changes in northern Patagonia, Argentina. In: Veblen TT, Baker W, Montenegro G, Swetnam TW (eds) Fire and climatic changes in temperate ecosystems of the Western Americas. Springer, New York, pp 265–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Veblen TT, Armesto JJ, Burns BR, Kitzberger T, Lara A, León B, Young KR (2005) The coniferous forests of South America Pp. 701–725. In: Andersson FA (ed) Coniferous Forests. Ecosystems of the World. Elsevier, Brussels, p 600Google Scholar
  95. Veblen TT, Kitzberger T, Raffaele E, Mermoz M, González ME, Sibold JS, Holz A (2008) The historical range of variability of fires in the Andean-Patagonian Nothofagus forest region. Int J Wildland Fire 17:724–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Veblen T, Holz A, Paritsis J, Raffaele E, Kitzberger T, Blackhall M (2011) Adapting to global environmental change in Patagonia: what role for disturbance ecology? Austral Ecol 36:891–903CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Villalba R, Veblen TT (1997) Regional patterns of tree population age structures in northern Patagonia: climatic and disturbance influences. J Ecol 85:113–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Villalba R, Veblen TT (1998) Influences of large-scale climatic variability on episodic tree mortality in northern Patagonia. Ecology 79:2624–2640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Villalba R, Boninsegna JA, Veblen TT, Schmelter A, Rubulis S (1997) Recent trends in tree-ring records from high elevation sites in the Andes of northern Patagonia. Clim Chang 36:425–454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Whitlock C, Bianchi MM, Bartlein PJ, Markgraf V, Marlon J, Walsh M, McCoy N (2006) Postglacial vegetation, climate, and fire history along the east side of the Andes (lat 41–42.5°S), Argentina. Quat Res 66:187–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  101. Whitlock C, Moreno PI, Bartlein P (2007) Climatic controls of Holocene fire patterns in southern South America. Quat Res 68:28–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  102. Willis B (1914) El norte de la Patagonia. Dirección de Parques Nacionales, Buenos AiresGoogle Scholar
  103. Wilson K, Newton A, Echeverría C, Weston C, Burgman M (2005) A vulnerability analysis of the temperate forests of south central Chile. Biol Conserv 122:9–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  104. Woodward FI (1987) Climate and plant distribution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratorio EcotonoUniversidad Nacional del Comahue, INIBIOMA-CONICETBarilocheArgentina

Personalised recommendations