Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. Holly Barnard

Second Advisor

Dr. William Travis

Third Advisor

Dr. Nichole Barger

Abstract

Precipitation is a main abiotic cue for flowering and fruiting in tropical plants. Global warming is likely to alter abiotic cues in tropical montane cloud forests such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica. The plants within the Monteverde Cloud Forest rely on cloud cover to provide precipitation through mist during the dry season. With rising sea surface temperatures caused by increased concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, cloud bases are likely to move up in elevation. This has the potential to increase the number of days without mist during the dry season. It is also possible that plant species have changed their altitude ranges in response to warming. Here, I repeat a 1979-81 census of flowering and fruiting plants in the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve for a two-week period in mid-July. Sixty-four plant species were noted for flowering or fruiting, and sixteen showed evidence of phenological change. Eight plant species were also found that were previously reported only from lower elevations. Although a small number of plants had atypical patterns, the majority were flowering or fruiting on time. Still, phenology changes of even a few species could impact food webs. Novel communities are likely to form as plants move up in altitude in search of historical mist and seasonal conditions.

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