University of Oulu

Kemppinen, J., Niittynen, P., Happonen, K., le Roux, P. C., Aalto, J., Hjort, J., Maliniemi, T., Karjalainen, O., Rautakoski, H., & Luoto, M. (2022). Geomorphological processes shape plant community traits in the Arctic. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 31, 1381– 1398.

Geomorphological processes shape plant community traits in the Arctic

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Author: Kemppinen, Julia1; Niittynen, Pekka2; Happonen, Konsta3;
Organizations: 1Geography Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Biological & Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
4Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
5Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
6Department of Biological Sciences, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-10-20


Aim: Geomorphological processes profoundly affect plant establishment and distributions, but their influence on functional traits is insufficiently understood. Here, we unveil trait–geomorphology relationships in Arctic plant communities.

Location: High-Arctic Svalbard, low-Arctic Greenland and sub-Arctic Fennoscandia.

Time period: 2011– 2018.

Major taxa studied: Vascular plants.

Methods: We collected field-quantified data on vegetation, geomorphological processes, microclimate and soil properties from 5,280 plots and 200 species across the three Arctic regions. We combined these data with database trait records to relate local plant community trait composition to dominant geomorphological processes of the Arctic, namely cryoturbation, deflation, fluvial processes and solifluction. We investigated the relationship between plant functional traits and geomorphological processes using hierarchical generalized additive modelling.

Results: Our results demonstrate that community-level traits are related to geomorphological processes, with cryoturbation most strongly influencing both structural and leaf economic traits. These results were consistent across regions, suggesting a coherent biome- level trait response to geomorphological processes.

Main conclusions: The results indicate that geomorphological processes shape plant community traits in the Arctic. We provide empirical evidence for the existence of generalizable relationships between plant functional traits and geomorphological processes. The results indicate that the relationships are consistent across these three distinct tundra regions and that geomorphological processes should be considered in future investigations of functional traits.

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Series: Global ecology and biogeography. A journal of macroecology
ISSN: 1466-822X
ISSN-E: 1466-822X
ISSN-L: 1466-822X
Volume: 31
Issue: 7
Pages: 1381 - 1398
DOI: 10.1111/geb.13512
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1171 Geosciences
119 Other natural sciences
Funding: J.K. was funded by the Arctic Interactions at the University of Oulu and Academy of Finland (318930, Profi 4). P.N. was funded by the Nessling foundation and the Kone Foundation. K.H. was funded by Carl Tryggers Stiftelse. J.A. was funded by the Academy of Finland Flagship funding (337552). J.H. and O.K. were funded by the Academy of Finland (315519). T.M. was funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. The field campaigns were funded by the Academy of Finland (307761 and 286950).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 315519
Detailed Information: 315519 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2022 The Authors. Global Ecology and Biogeography published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.