Summary: Mortality Gradients within and among Dominant
Plant Populations as Barometers of Ecosystem Change
During Extreme Drought
ALICYN R. GITLIN,
§ CHRISTOPHER M. STHULTZ,
MATTHEW A. BOWKER,
KRISTINA L. PAXTON,
AXHEL MU~NOZ, JOSEPH K. BAILEY,
AND THOMAS G. WHITHAM
Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 5640, Flagstaff, AZ 860115640, U.S.A.
Center for Environmental Science and Education, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 5694, Flagstaff, AZ 860115694, U.S.A.
The Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, P.O. Box 5765, Flagstaff, AZ 860115765, U.S.A.
Abstract: Understanding patterns of plant population mortality during extreme weather events is important
to conservation planners because the frequency of such events is expected to increase, creating the need to
integrate climatic uncertainty into management. Dominant plants provide habitat and ecosystem structure,
so changes in their distribution can be expected to have cascading effects on entire communities. Observing