Alpine Belt

Alpine Belt

 

a high natural belt in mountainous territory, with predominantly mountain-meadow topography. It lies above the subalpine belt and at higher elevations is replaced by the nival belt. The elevation of the alpine belt varies depending on the latitude, degree of humidity, and exposure of the slopes. In the Alps and Northern Caucasus, for example, the belt lies at an elevation of 2,200 to 3,000 m; on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, from 3,600 to 5,000 m. The alpine belt is most prominent in well-watered mountains of the temperate and subtropical latitudes; in higher latitudes it is replaced by the mountain tundra belt, in lower latitudes by the mountain steppe and desert belts, and in equatorial latitudes by the paramo belt. Widespread distribution of mountain glacier relief forms is characteristic of the alpine belt. The climate is cold, with prolonged (six to ten months), thick snow cover, a short vegetation period, and strong winds. Average temperatures are as low as - 15°C in January and below 14°C in July. Precipitation is 1,000 mm or more per year; avalanches are common. Alpine vegetation predominates, forming mainly communities of low-grass alpine meadows and thickets of cushion-like plant formations. The fauna consists mainly of species adapted to rapid migration to lower belts (mountain sheep, antelopes, goats, and other hoofed animals) or hibernators (marmots, tree-creepers, field mice, and other rodents). The economic significance of the alpine belt lies mostly in its use as summer pasture land.

References in periodicals archive ?
Turkey, situated on the Alpine Belt, where the world's richest marble deposits are found, is among the world's oldest natural stone producers, said the official.
There, the subalpine belt is characterized by widespread conifer forests and related scrubs and grasslands, and gives way upwards to the alpine belt through the treeline ecotone.
From lowlands to the subalpine belt, they form secondary vegetation related to deforestation, or permanent units on rocky slopes, whereas in the alpine belt they mainly inhabit the most balanced habitats (flat areas and gentle slopes).
They showed a general increasing trend with increasing altitude for most of the gradient, excluding the lowest altitudes and the alpine belt.
The ruderal flora was very rich in the submontane belt (22-28%) and gradually decreased in altitude, although it remained noticeable (4-5%) up to the lower alpine belt.
However, whereas Atlantic species disappeared along the alpine belt, Mediterranean orophytes increased variously, and reached noticeable percentages (10-14%) at the pre-Pyrenean higher altitudes.
These plant communities show ecological and floristic relations with Leontopodio nivalis-Seslerietum juncifoliae, an association described for the alpine belt of the Majella massif and typically located on crests and ridges at high altitudes (Blasi & al.
This vegetation can be referred to Saxifrago speciosae-Silenetum cenisiae, an association described for the Velino massif and present in the alpine belt of the main massifs of the central Apennines (Petriccione, 1993; Petriccione & Persia, 1995).
Floristic, ecological and structural features allow this vegetation to be framed within Ranunculo pollinensisPlantaginetum atratae, described for the alpine belt of the Gran Sasso massif.
Numerous similarities can be observed with the high-altitude (alpine belt) environments of the Majella massif: the presence of the Leontopodio nivalis-Seslerietum juncifoliae association, including the Sesleria juncifolia grasslands of the alpine belt characterized by a high presence of Leontopodium nivale, is a characteristic of these two massifs.
With regard to the Sibillini mountains, the phytosociological research presented in this paper indicates the presence of an alpine belt and the corresponding primary plant community types, such as the Leontopodio nivalis-Seslerietum juncifoliae (in its typical form and with the subass.