Alpine & subalpine habitats

Subalpine herbs wilt and turn yellow in late September. Granite Basin in Dzantik’i Héeni watershed.


  • Above the coastal forest dominated by western hemlock, a sequence of elevational zones includes:
  • small-tree subalpine forest;
  • subalpine parkland; and
  • alpine tundra.

Wildlife values change accordingly.

Forest limit is the upper limit of closed subalpine forest. Conifers above this are just scattered clumps of stunted elfinwood. Highest of these dwarf conifers at tree limit may reach 3,500 to 4,000 ft on some mountains.

Here’s a diagram of elevational belts on typical Southeast mountainside. Communities also respond to topography; transitions are lower in valleys and higher on convex slopes.

My best effort so far to summarize mountain habitats is this ‘zones’ chapter from Summit to sea.

In this section

Mountain zones

Chapter in Summit to sea Preparing for the Goatlandia class coming up, June, 2023, seems high time I got this…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 12 pages

Happy goat-year, 2023!

A calendar for mountain goats, naturally! Best wishes for the new year, to Discovery members and Jánwu lovers everywhere! Our…

Draft goat calendar 2023

Jánwu’s year in Áak’w Aaní; digital version Within a few months of beginning our mountain goat study in October, 2020.…

2023 | Richard Carstensen | 28 pages

Cusp of summer and fall

Insights from tele-views of Jánwu What an amazing place we live in! From afar, scoping in valley bottom, or up…

2021 | Richard Carstensen | 7 minute slideshow

Whistlers on the mountains

Hoary marmots by Armstrong & Hermans In 2006, inspired by the amazing photo library Bob Armstrong had been accumulating, mostly…

2006 | Bob Armstrong & Marge Hermans | 33 pages

Chilkat journal, 20190706-08

A first visit with LCC In July, 2019, Jessica Plachta, director of Lynn Canal Conservation, offered to host my family…

2019 | Richard Carstensen | 61 pages

Mid-May on Shaa Tlaax

Goats, geology & zonation on Shaa Tlaax, moldy top (Mt Juneau) Video-journal of the flora, fauna, and geomorphology that hikers…

2019 | Richard Carstensen | 4 minutes

Skiing at Spaulding Meadows

Skiing at Spaulding Meadows, above Auke Bay. spaulding from Discovery Southeast JuneauNature on Vimeo.

2017 | Richard Carstensen |

Eaglecrest aerials

In September, as deer cabbage turned gold, I flew some of the new trails on ridges above the lifts. eaglecrestaerials…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 2 minutes

September in Granite Basin

Vignettes from an evening visit to Granite Basin, just a couple hours above downtown Juneau. Thoughts on the connections between…

2017 | Richard Carstensen | 2.5 minutes

Southeast glaciers from IfSAR, ArcGIS Online

On receipt of the new DSM (digital surface model) from IfSAR missions at 5-meter pixel resolution, it became possible to…

2018 | Richard Carstensen | 1 page

Héen Latinee high country

Excerpt from a lengthy scoping document on Héen Latinee Experimental Forest, at the northern edge of Áak’w Aaní. Geography, geology,…

2010 | Richard Carstensen | 11 Pages

2006 winter newsletter. Sitka deer: Thoughts and field notes

Excerpts from 25 years of journals Feature on Sitka black-tailed deer: habitat relations, stotting, mountaintop bachelor gangs, differential wariness of…

Winter 2006 | Richard Carstensen | 12 pages