Changes in climate and vegetation with altitude on Mount Batilamu, Viti Levu, Fiji

Jacynta Anderson, Gunnar Keppel, Sophie Min Thomson, Anthony Randell, Jone Raituva, Iliesa Koroi, Ramokasa Anisi, Tanya Charlson, Hans Juergen Boehmer, Sonia Kleindorfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate changes in vegetation and climate with altitude, we established forest plots and recorded climatic data at 100-m intervals between 550-1100 m asl on the western slopes of Mount Batilamu, Mount Koroyanitu range, Viti Levu, Fiji. Trees with a dbh ≥10 cm were identified and measured in 21 10 × 10-m plots, starting at 750 m altitude. Temperature and relative humidity sensors were deployed in two habitats, leaf litter and 50 cm above the ground, and two vegetation types, grasslands and forest, at six altitudes over a 48-h period. Two significantly distinct forest types, lowland and montane, were present. Montane forest was found at higher elevations (>950 m asl) and had significantly higher stem density. Mean temperature decreased significantly with altitude and was strongly moderated by vegetation type (lower average and less variation in forest). While average relative humidity significantly increased with altitude, it was strongly moderated by both habitat and vegetation type (higher average and less variation in leaf litter and forest). The lapse rate varied with time of day (higher during the day) and vegetation type (higher in grasslands). Therefore, vegetation and microhabitats create unique microclimates, and this should be considered when investigating current or future climatic patterns along altitudinal gradients on forested mountains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-325
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Tropical Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018


  • altitudinal gradient
  • endemism
  • lowland rain forest
  • microclimate
  • montane forest
  • Mount Koroyanitu National Heritage Park
  • relative humidity
  • South Pacific
  • temperature
  • tropical oceanic island


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