Work Package 2
Impact of vertebrate herbivory on tundra vegetation

Mammalian herbivores like voles and reindeer have strong direct effects on tundra vegetation via consuming plants and thus reducing plant biomass. Herbivores have also strong indirect effects on tundra vegetation via addition of urine and droppings, and via altering soil nutrient cycling. Recent findings reveal that the effects of herbivores on tundra ecosystems are so strong that they can be observed as changes in NDVI on satellite images and herbivores could thus influence plant production, carbon fluxes and albedo even at regional scales. However, the interactive effect of herbivores and climate change, and the mechanistic link between changes in plant community composition or plant traits and changes in NDVI and albedo is poorly known.

We will in this work package study the interactive effect of herbivores and climate on plant community composition and plant traits using a number of long term field experiments and vegetation changes in natural experiments. We will also study the link between vegetation changes and ground truth data on NDVI and albedo. The results from this work package will improve the interpretation of the driving forces behind changes in NDVI observed in satellite images, and clarify the potential of herbivores to influence the climate via changes in the albedo of the tundra.

Assoc. Prof. Johan Olofsson, Umeå Univ. (Johan.Olofsson[at]

Newest Publications

     Content Editor


    ​​Keskitalo, E.C.H, Horstkotte, T., Kivinen, S., Forbes, B., and Käyhkö, J. (2015). "Generality of mis-fit"? The real-life difficulty of matching scales in an interconnected world. Accepted for publication in Ambio.

    Saccone P. and Virtanen R. (2015). Extrapolating multi-decadal plant community changes based on medium-term experiments can be risky: evidence from high-latitude tundra. Oikos. DOI: 10.1111/oik.02399.

    Stark, S. and Ylänne H. (2015). Grazing in Arctic peatlands – an unknown agent in the global carbon budget. Environmental Research Letters, 10: 051002. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/10/5/051002.

    Ylänne, H., Stark, S., and Tolvanen, A. (2015). Vegetation shift from deciduous to evergreen dwarf shrubs in response to selective herbivory offsets carbon losses: evidence from 19 years of warming and simulated herbivory in the sub-arctic tundra. Global Change Biology,  21: 3696–3711.

    Ruffino, L., Oksanen, T., Hoset, K.S., Tuomi, M., Oksanen, L., Korpimäki, E., Bugli, A., Hobson, K.A., Johansen, B., and Mäkynen A. (2015). Predator-rodent-plant interactions along a coast-inland gradient in Fennoscandian tundra. Ecography. DOI: 10.1111/ecog.01758.

    Björkman, C. and Niemelä, P., eds. (2015). Climate Change and Insect Pests. CABI Climate Change Series 7. 279 pp.

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