Forest ecology and biogeography of the Uinta Mountains, U.S.A

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Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research



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The Uinta Mountains form a crossroads of forests and woodlands in the central Rocky Mountains. Although no tree species is endemic to the area, all species characteristic of the central Rocky Mountains are found there, and the ranges of several other species terminate in the Uinta Mountains and the surrounding area. The peninsula-like shape, east-west orientation, and complex terrain of the range create a wide variety of potential forest sites that contrast with other ranges in the central Rockies. As a result, the Uinta Mountains are home to sites of unexpectedly high tree species diversity. Throughout most of the range, vegetation is organized in predictable zones that are characteristic of the Intermountain West; the range exhibits excellent vegetation zonation. However, across much of the northern slope several important species are absent, resulting in unexpectedly low diversity and "missing" vegetation zones. In this paper we provide an overview of the forest ecology and biogeography of the Uinta Mountains and update the local model for vegetation zonation. We also consider some possible explanations for the unexpected vegetation patterns and identify opportunities for future research.

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