University of Oulu

Tuomi, M, Väisänen, M, Ylänne, H, et al. Stomping in silence: Conceptualizing trampling effects on soils in polar tundra. Funct Ecol. 2021; 35: 306– 317.

Stomping in silence : conceptualizing trampling effects on soils in polar tundra

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Author: Tuomi, Maria1,2; Väisänen, Maria3,4; Ylänne, Henni3,5;
Organizations: 1Section of Ecology, Department of Biology, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
2Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Faculty of Biosciences, Fisheries, and Economics, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
3Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland
5Centre for Environmental and Climate Research, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
6Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK
7Agricultural University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland
8Institute of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland
9Norwegian Polar Institute, FRAM – High North Research Centre for Climate and the Environment, Tromsø, Norway
10University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Longyearbyen, Norway
11Department of Natural History, NTNU University Museum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
12Centre for Polar Ecology, Faculty of Science, University of South Bohemia, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
13Biology Centre ASCR, Institute of Soil Biology, Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic
14Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, Hella, Iceland
15Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, Department of Botany, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-11-24


1. Ungulate trampling modifies soils and interlinked ecosystem functions across biomes. Until today, most research has focused on temperate ecosystems and mineral soils while trampling effects on cold and organic matter‐rich tundra soils remain largely unknown.

2. We aimed to develop a general model of trampling effects on soil structure, biota, microclimate and biogeochemical processes, with a particular focus on polar tundra soils. To reach this goal, we reviewed literature about the effects of trampling and physical disturbances on soils across biomes and used this to discuss the knowns and unknowns of trampling effects on tundra soils.

3. We identified the following four pathways through which trampling affects soils: (a) soil compaction; (b) reductions in soil fauna and fungi; (c) rapid losses in vegetation biomass and cover; and (d) longer term shifts in vegetation community composition.

4. We found that, in polar tundra, soil responses to trampling pathways 1 and 3 could be characterized by nonlinear dynamics and tundra‐specific context dependencies that we formulated into testable hypotheses.

5. In conclusion, trampling may affect tundra soil significantly but many direct, interacting and cascading responses remain unknown. We call for research to advance the understanding of trampling effects on soils to support informed efforts to manage and predict the functioning of tundra systems under global changes.

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Series: Functional ecology
ISSN: 0269-8463
ISSN-E: 1365-2435
ISSN-L: 0269-8463
Volume: 35
Issue: 2
Pages: 306 - 317
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13719
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The early process towards the conceptual model was guided by a workshop among members of the international Herbivory Network (Barrio, Bueno, et al., 2016; The authors thank Riikka Rinnan for insightful comments on the manuscript. The International Arctic Science Committee provided funding for the Herbivory Network workshop and the Icelandic Centre for Research, Rannís, provided meeting facilities. The participation of I.E. and M.P.B. was funded by the Fram Center. M.T. was funded by the Turku University Foundation. C.G.B. was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence EcolChange) and the Estonian Research Council (IUT 20‐28). B.C.F. was funded by the Academy of Finland, decision no. 256991 and JPI Climate no. 291581. I.C.B. was funded by the Icelandic Research Fund (Rannsóknasjóður, grant no. 152468‐051) and AXA Research Fund (15‐AXA‐PDOC‐307). P.M. was supported by GACR 17‐20839S and ECOPOLARIS CZ.02.1.01/0.0/0.0/16_013/0001708. H.Y. and S.S. were supported by the Kone Foundation and J.D.M.S. was supported by the Research Council of Norway (262064). The authors acknowledge Hannu Fritze (Natural Resources Institute, Finland) for fruitful discussions during the workshop.
Copyright information: © 2020 British Ecological Society. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Tuomi, M, Väisänen, M, Ylänne, H, et al. Stomping in silence: Conceptualizing trampling effects on soils in polar tundra. Funct Ecol. 2021; 35: 306– 317, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.