University of Oulu

Maliniemi, T, Kapfer, J, Saccone, P, Skog, A, Virtanen, R. Long‐term vegetation changes of treeless heath communities in northern Fennoscandia: Links to climate change trends and reindeer grazing. J Veg Sci. 2018; 29: 469– 479. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12630

Long‐term vegetation changes of treeless heath communities in northern Fennoscandia : links to climate change trends and reindeer grazing

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Author: Maliniemi, Tuija1; Kapfer, Jutta2; Saccone, Patrick1,3;
Organizations: 1Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Tromsø, Norway
3Centre for Polar Ecology, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
4Department of Physiological Diversity, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
5German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle‐Jena‐Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
Persistent link: http://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi-fe2019040511251
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-04-18
Description:

Abstract

Question: In recent decades, high‐latitude climate has shown regionally variable trends towards warmer and moister conditions. These changes have been predicted to cause afforestation or shrubification of open tundra, increases of warmth‐demanding southern species and plant groups favoured by increased moisture, and decline of species and habitats that are dependent on snow cover. In this study, we explore temporal changes in northern tundra upland plant communities along regional gradients and in local habitats. We ask how vegetation changes are linked with long‐term trends in regional climate and grazing pressure.

Location: Northern Europe.

Methods: In 2013–2014, we resurveyed a total of 108 vegetation plots on wind‐exposed and snow‐protected tundra habitats in three subareas along a bioclimatic gradient from the northern boreal to the arctic zone. Vegetation plots were originally sampled in 1964–1967. We related observed vegetation changes to changes in temperature, precipitation and grazing pressure, which all showed regionally variable increases over the study period.

Results: We found a significant increase of the evergreen dwarf shrub Empetrum nigrum subsp. hermaphroditum in snow‐protected communities and a prominent decrease of lichens throughout the study area. No evidence for extensive tree or larger shrub (Betula spp., Salix spp. or Juniperus communis) encroachment despite climatic warming trends was found. Among studied communities, most pronounced changes in vegetation were observed in snow‐protected boreal heaths on small isolated uplands, where community composition showed low resemblance to the original composition described decades ago. Changes in plant communities correlated with changes in summer and winter temperatures, summer precipitation and reindeer grazing pressure, yet correlations varied depending on region and habitat.

Conclusions: Northern tundra uplands vary in their resistance to on‐going climate change and reindeer grazing. Isolated treeless heaths of boreal forest–tundra ecotone appear least resistant to climate change and have already shifted towards new community states.

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Series: Journal of vegetation science
ISSN: 1100-9233
ISSN-E: 1654-1103
ISSN-L: 1100-9233
Volume: 29
Issue: 3
Pages: 469 - 479
DOI: 10.1111/jvs.12630
OADOI: https://oadoi.org/10.1111/jvs.12630
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Subjects:
Funding: This research was financially supported by the Academy of Finland (project # 259072). The research leading to these results received funding from INTERACT (grant agreement No. 262693) under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme.
EU Grant Number: (262693) INTERACT - International Network for Terrestrial Research and Monitoring in the Arctic
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 259072
Detailed Information: 259072 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2018 International Association for Vegetation Science. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Maliniemi, T, Kapfer, J, Saccone, P, Skog, A, Virtanen, R. Long‐term vegetation changes of treeless heath communities in northern Fennoscandia: Links to climate change trends and reindeer grazing. J Veg Sci. 2018; 29: 469– 479, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12630. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.