Tundra Site (tundra + site)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Shrub expansion may reduce summer permafrost thaw in Siberian tundra

Abstract Climate change is expected to cause extensive vegetation changes in the Arctic: deciduous shrubs are already expanding, in response to climate warming. The results from transect studies suggest that increasing shrub cover will impact significantly on the surface energy balance. However, little is known about the direct effects of shrub cover on permafrost thaw during summer. We experimentally quantified the influence of Betula nana cover on permafrost thaw in a moist tundra site in northeast Siberia with continuous permafrost. We measured the thaw depth of the soil, also called the active layer thickness (ALT), ground heat flux and net radiation in 10 m diameter plots with natural B. nana cover (control plots) and in plots in which B. nana was removed (removal plots). Removal of B. nana increased ALT by 9% on average late in the growing season, compared with control plots. Differences in ALT correlated well with differences in ground heat flux between the control plots and B. nana removal plots. In the undisturbed control plots, we found an inverse correlation between B. nana cover and late growing season ALT. These results suggest that the expected expansion of deciduous shrubs in the Arctic region, triggered by climate warming, may reduce summer permafrost thaw. Increased shrub growth may thus partially offset further permafrost degradation by future temperature increases. Permafrost models need to include a dynamic vegetation component to accurately predict future permafrost thaw. [source]

Vegetation responses in Alaskan arctic tundra after 8 years of a summer warming and winter snow manipulation experiment

C.-H. A. Wahren
Abstract We used snow fences and small (1 m2) open-topped fiberglass chambers (OTCs) to study the effects of changes in winter snow cover and summer air temperatures on arctic tundra. In 1994, two 60 m long, 2.8 m high snow fences, one in moist and the other in dry tundra, were erected at Toolik Lake, Alaska. OTCs paired with unwarmed plots, were placed along each experimental snow gradient and in control areas adjacent to the snowdrifts. After 8 years, the vegetation of the two sites, including that in control plots, had changed significantly. At both sites, the cover of shrubs, live vegetation, and litter, together with canopy height, had all increased, while lichen cover and diversity had decreased. At the moist site, bryophytes decreased in cover, while an increase in graminoids was almost entirely because of the response of the sedge Eriophorum vaginatum. These community changes were consistent with results found in studies of responses to warming and increased nutrient availability in the Arctic. However, during the time period of the experiment, summer temperature did not increase, but summer precipitation increased by 28%. The snow addition treatment affected species abundance, canopy height, and diversity, whereas the summer warming treatment had few measurable effects on vegetation. The interannual temperature fluctuation was considerably larger than the temperature increases within OTCs (<2°C), however. Snow addition also had a greater effect on microclimate by insulating vegetation from winter wind and temperature extremes, modifying winter soil temperatures, and increasing spring run-off. Most increases in shrub cover and canopy height occurred in the medium snow-depth zone (0.5,2 m) of the moist site, and the medium to deep snow-depth zone (2,3 m) of the dry site. At the moist tundra site, deciduous shrubs, particularly Betula nana, increased in cover, while evergreen shrubs decreased. These differential responses were likely because of the larger production to biomass ratio in deciduous shrubs, combined with their more flexible growth response under changing environmental conditions. At the dry site, where deciduous shrubs were a minor part of the vegetation, evergreen shrubs increased in both cover and canopy height. These changes in abundance of functional groups are expected to affect most ecological processes, particularly the rate of litter decomposition, nutrient cycling, and both soil carbon and nitrogen pools. Also, changes in canopy structure, associated with increases in shrub abundance, are expected to alter the summer energy balance by increasing net radiation and evapotranspiration, thus altering soil moisture regimes. [source]

Site-level evaluation of satellite-based global terrestrial gross primary production and net primary production monitoring

David P. Turner
Abstract Operational monitoring of global terrestrial gross primary production (GPP) and net primary production (NPP) is now underway using imagery from the satellite-borne Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor. Evaluation of MODIS GPP and NPP products will require site-level studies across a range of biomes, with close attention to numerous scaling issues that must be addressed to link ground measurements to the satellite-based carbon flux estimates. Here, we report results of a study aimed at evaluating MODIS NPP/GPP products at six sites varying widely in climate, land use, and vegetation physiognomy. Comparisons were made for twenty-five 1 km2 cells at each site, with 8-day averages for GPP and an annual value for NPP. The validation data layers were made with a combination of ground measurements, relatively high resolution satellite data (Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus at ,30 m resolution), and process-based modeling. There was strong seasonality in the MODIS GPP at all sites, and mean NPP ranged from 80 g C m,2 yr,1 at an arctic tundra site to 550 g C m,2 yr,1 at a temperate deciduous forest site. There was not a consistent over- or underprediction of NPP across sites relative to the validation estimates. The closest agreements in NPP and GPP were at the temperate deciduous forest, arctic tundra, and boreal forest sites. There was moderate underestimation in the MODIS products at the agricultural field site, and strong overestimation at the desert grassland and at the dry coniferous forest sites. Analyses of specific inputs to the MODIS NPP/GPP algorithm , notably the fraction of photosynthetically active radiation absorbed by the vegetation canopy, the maximum light use efficiency (LUE), and the climate data , revealed the causes of the over- and underestimates. Suggestions for algorithm improvement include selectively altering values for maximum LUE (based on observations at eddy covariance flux towers) and parameters regulating autotrophic respiration. [source]

Plant species richness in continental southern Siberia: effects of pH and climate in the context of the species pool hypothesis

GLOBAL ECOLOGY, Issue 5 2007
Milan Chytrý
ABSTRACT Aim, Many high-latitude floras contain more calcicole than calcifuge vascular plant species. The species pool hypothesis explains this pattern through an historical abundance of high-pH soils in the Pleistocene and an associated opportunity for the evolutionary accumulation of calcicoles. To obtain insights into the history of calcicole/calcifuge patterns, we studied species richness,pH,climate relationships across a climatic gradient, which included cool and dry landscapes resembling the Pleistocene environments of northern Eurasia. Location, Western Sayan Mountains, southern Siberia. Methods, Vegetation and environmental variables were sampled at steppe, forest and tundra sites varying in climate and soil pH, which ranged from 3.7 to 8.6. Species richness was related to pH and other variables using linear models and regression trees. Results, Species richness is higher in areas with warmer winters and at medium altitudes that are warmer than the mountains and wetter than the lowlands. In treeless vegetation, the species richness,pH relationship is unimodal. In tundra vegetation, which occurs on low-pH soils, richness increases with pH, but it decreases in steppes, which have high-pH soils. In forests, where soils are more acidic than in the open landscape, the species richness,pH relationship is monotonic positive. Most species occur on soils with a pH of 6,7. Main conclusions, Soil pH in continental southern Siberia is strongly negatively correlated with precipitation, and species richness is determined by the opposite effects of these two variables. Species richness increases with pH until the soil is very dry. In dry soils, pH is high but species richness decreases due to drought stress. Thus, the species richness,pH relationship is unimodal in treeless vegetation. Trees do not grow on the driest soils, which results in a positive species richness,pH relationship in forests. If modern species richness resulted mainly from the species pool effects, it would suggest that historically common habitats had moderate precipitation and slightly acidic to neutral soils. [source]

Compositional differentiation, vegetation-environment relationships and classification of willow-characterised vegetation in the western Eurasian Arctic

A.M. Pajunen
Abstract Question: How does willow-characterised tundra vegetation of western Eurasia vary, and what are the main vegetation types? What are the ecological gradients and climatic regimes underlying vegetation differentiation? Location: The dataset was collected across a wide spectrum of tundra habitats at 12 sites in subarctic and arctic areas spanning from NW Fennoscandia to West Siberia. Methods: The dataset, including 758 vegetation sample plots (relevés), was analysed using a TWINSPAN classification and NMDS ordination that also included analyses of vegetation-environment correlations. Results: Based on the TWINSPAN classification, eight vegetation types characterised by willow (cover of upright willows >10%) were discerned: (1) Salix glauca - Carex aquatilis type, (2) Aulacomnium - Tomentypnum type, (3) Salix - Betula - Hylocomium type, (4) Salix lanata - Brachythecium mildeanum type, (5) Salix - Pachypleurum type, (6) S. lanata - Myosotis nemorosa type, (7) Salix-Trollius-Geranium type and (8) Salix - Comarum palustre - Filipendula ulmaria type. Willow-characterised vegetation types were compositionally differentiated from other tundra vegetation and were confined to relatively moist valley and sloping tundra sites, from mire to mineral soils. These vegetation types were encountered across a broad latitudinal zone in which July mean temperature ranged from 6 to 10°C. Conclusions: Willow-characterised tundra vegetation forms a broad category of ecologically and geographically differentiated vegetation types that are linked to dwarf shrub tundra, shrub tundra or mire. Because of complex ecological gradients underlying compositional differentiation, predicting the responses of willow-characterised tundra vegetation to a warming climate may be complicated. [source]

Being high is better: effects of elevation and habitat on arctic ground squirrel demography

OIKOS, Issue 2 2005
Elizabeth A. Gillis
We investigated the effect of local environment on the demography and population dynamics of arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii plesius) by comparing reproduction, survival, and population trends of squirrels living in low elevation boreal forest and high elevation alpine tundra sites in southwestern Yukon Territory, Canada. Contrary to the trend for most birds and mammals, reproduction was significantly lower at the lower elevation and females living at higher elevation did not delay the age at which they first reproduced. Even though survival in the boreal forest was lower in summer than in the alpine, it was higher over winter so annual adult female survival was similar between sites. Sensitivity analysis of model parameters revealed that in the forest, population growth rate (,) was most sensitive to small changes in adult active season survival whereas for the alpine population, , was most sensitive to changes in juvenile winter survival. In their respective habitats, these parameters also showed high year to year variation and thus contributed greatly to the population trends observed. Even though ground squirrels persisted in the boreal forest, the measured demographic rates indicate the forest was sink habitat (,<1) and may have relied on nearby grassy meadows for immigrants. In contrast, the alpine habitat maintained a ground squirrel population in the absence of immigration (,=1). The variation in demographic rates between ground squirrels living at high and low elevation may arise from phenotypic responses of squirrels to different habitat structure. Arctic ground squirrels rely on sight to detect predators from a safe distance, and the boreal forest, with its lower visibility and higher predator density, appears to be suboptimal habitat. [source]