Document Type



Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor's Name

Kenneth J. Feeley

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Steven F. Oberbauer

Third Advisor's Name

Jennifer H. Richards


cloudforest, plant functional traits, elevational gradient, root:shoot ratio, specific leaf area, Andes

Date of Defense



Andean montane forests are one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth, but are also highly vulnerable to climate change. Therefore, the link between plant distribution and ecosystem productivity is a critical point to investigate in these ecosystems. Are the patterns in productivity observed in montane forest due to species turnover along the elevational gradients? Methodological constraints keep this question unanswered. Also, despite their importance, belowground biomass remains poorly quantified and understood. I measured two plant functional traits in seedlings, root:shoot ratio and specific leaf area, to identify different strategies in growth and biomass allocation across elevations. A tradeoff in specific leaf area with elevation was found in only one species, and no generalized directional change was detected with elevations for root:shoot ratio. Lack of information for the ontogeny of the measured plant traits could confounding the analysis.





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