First Advisor

Scott Franklin

First Committee Member

Mitchell McGlaughlin

Second Committee Member

Chelsie Romulo

Degree Name

Master of Science

Document Type


Date Created



Amid global climate change, exploring adaptive strategies among alpine flora, particularly through clonal growth, becomes critical for biodiversity conservation. This study aims to explore the patterns of dominance and distributions among clonal species across environmental gradients in the Colorado Front Range, employing a trait-based comparative analysis to understand the adaptive strategies of alpine flora and their implications for conservation amid rapid climate change. We focused on two species, studying traits like lateral spread, bud count, and bulbil numbers. Advanced statistical methods such as Permutational Multivariate Analysis of Variance (PerMANOVA) and Multi-Response Permutation Procedures (MRPP) were used to evaluate community compositions and biodiversity variations across the gradient. Results confirmed significant variations in community composition, influenced by ecosystem type and elevation, highlighting the importance of these factors in defining plant communities. The research revealed a pronounced dominance of clonal growth in alpine and forest ecosystems, underscoring the complexity of clonal adaptation and survival strategies in response to environmental stresses. Unexpected patterns, such as the lateral spread in Carex nardina, demonstrate the intricate relationship between clonal growth patterns and environmental gradients. Acknowledging limitations such as the focus on broad environmental gradients and single-season data collection, future directions include collecting fine-scale environmental data and integrating genetic analyses to deepen understanding of clonal populations' genetic structure. This thesis advances our understanding of adaptive strategies of alpine plants and emphasizes the need for a multidimensional approach in ecological research to effectively conserve biodiversity and develop predictive models in response to climate change.

Abstract Format



Biology | Plant Biology


88 pages

Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.