Description Of An Alpine Environment

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Introduction: Spectacular changes take place in alpine environments. An obvious observation is that the tree line ends and peaks emerge. A more subtle change occurs within the plants. There are two major ways in which plants adapt to survive in alpine environments; morphologically and physiologically. Although, W.D. Billings, in his “Adaptations and Origins of Alpine Plants”, states that there are also a few other manners in which they adapt including reproductive and ecological (1974). However, the main focus of this essay is on the morphological and physiological adaptations plants make.
Description of an Alpine Environment:
Before discussing what changes plants undergo to survive in alpine environments, a description of an alpine environment is needed. A brief explanation would be that an alpine environment begins where the tree line on a mountain ends (Frank Salisbury et al., 1968). Classic characteristics of this sort of environment include low temperatures, short and instable seasons, as well as windy and snowy conditions (Billings, 1974). The Latin word for alpine is albus which means “white” or “snow-covered” according to Korner in his “Alpine Plant Life” (1949). Korner also believes that there are only two main categories of plants that reside in alpine environments that ought to be considered alpine plants. The categories include those plants that are restricted to life in alpine environments and those found in alpine environments as well as some lower altitudes

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