The Landscape Continuum: A Model for High-Elevation Ecosystems

Tim R. Seastedt, William D. Bowman, T. Nelson Caine, Diane McKnight, Alan Townsend, Mark W. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Interactions between climate and ecosystems with complex topographic gradients generate unique source and sink habitats for water and nutrients as a result of precipitation, energy, and chemical redistribution. We examined these phenomena for a high-elevation site in the Colorado Front Range. Current changes in climate and atmospheric deposition of nitrogen to these systems are causing rapid changes in some portions of this system but not in others. Using a conceptual model that links terrestrial ecosystems to each other and to aquatic ecosystems, we report how atmospheric inputs and endogenous resources can be amplified or attenuated by transport processes. High-elevation lakes and the alpine tundra-forest ecotone are expected to receive the brunt of anthropogenic inputs obtained from (a) the redistribution of exogenous materials from the regional environment and (b) endogenous sources originating in other montane areas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-121
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004


  • Alpine
  • Aquatic-terrestrial interactions
  • Climate
  • Nutrient deposition
  • Transport processes


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