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Work Package 3

Impact of grazing on the dynamics of rare arctic-alpine plants

Preservation of open landscapes is not a sufficient condition for the survival of Nordic arctic-alpine plants. Depending on the balance between the direct negative impacts of grazing and the indirect positive ones, the net impact of grazing can range from preserving arctic alpine plants to speeding up their demise. Periodic disturbance favors the recruitment of sexually reproducing plants but continuously intense grazing creates graminoid dominated lawns, strongly dominated by rhizomatous graminoids. Our preliminary results indicate that even the highest observed intensities of reindeer grazing in Fennoscandia increase the populations of arctic-alpine rarities but this preliminary result must be verified by further studies. 

We will focus on plants of calcium influenced habitats, because nearly all Fennoscandian arctic-alpine rarities belong to this category. In Nordreisa, Tromsø, Norway, such a floristically rich area is dissected by a reindeer fence and divided it into an intensely grazed summer range and a practically abandoned area, creating dramatic differences in vegetation and ecosystem processes within a distance of a few decimeters. We will also conduct complementary experiments in four fertilized and limed areas á 0.25 ha, established on initially oligotrophic tundra heaths in our inland study area.

Prof. Lauri Oksanen, Univ. of Turku and The Arctic University of Norway (lauoks[at]utu.fi, lauri[at]hifm.no)

Prof. Lars Ericson, Umeå Univ. (lars.ericson[at]emg.umu.se)


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    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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