Ecosystem change and stability over multiple decades in the Swedish subarctic: complex processes and multiple drivers

Callaghan, Terry V. and Jonasson, Christer and Thierfelder, Tomas and Yang, Zhenlin and Hedenås, Henrik and Johansson, Margareta and Molau, Ulf and van Bogaert, Rik and Michelsen, Anders and Olofsson, Johan and Gwynn-Jones, Dylan and Bokhorst, Stef and Phoenix, Gareth and Bjerke, Jarle W. and Tømmervik, Hans and Christensen, Torben R. and Hanna, Edward and Koller, Eva K. and Sloan, Victoria L. (2013) Ecosystem change and stability over multiple decades in the Swedish subarctic: complex processes and multiple drivers. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 368 (1624). ISSN 0962-8436

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The subarctic environment of northernmost Sweden has changed over the past century, particularly elements of climate and cryosphere. This paper presents a unique geo-referenced record of environmental and ecosystem observations from the area since 1913. Abiotic changes have been substantial. Vegetation changes include not only increases in growth and range extension but also counterintuitive decreases, and stability: all three possible responses. Changes in species composition within the major plant communities have ranged between almost no changes to almost a 50 per cent increase in the number of species. Changes in plant species abundance also vary with particularly large increases in trees and shrubs (up to 600). There has been an increase in abundance of aspen and large changes in other plant communities responding to wetland area increases resulting from permafrost thaw. Populations of herbivores have responded to varying management practices and climate regimes, particularly changing snow conditions. While it is difficult to generalize and scale-up the site-specific changes in ecosystems, this very site-specificity, combined with projections of change, is of immediate relevance to local stakeholders who need to adapt to new opportunities and to respond to challenges. Furthermore, the relatively small area and its unique datasets are a microcosm of the complexity of Arctic landscapes in transition that remains to be documented. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Keywords:abundance, climate change, climate effect, complexity, cryosphere, ecosystem dynamics, herbivore, management practice, microcosm, permafrost, plant community, shrub, stakeholder, subarctic region, vegetation dynamics, wetland, Sweden
Subjects:F Physical Sciences > F330 Environmental Physics
Divisions:College of Science > School of Geography
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ID Code:26015
Deposited On:24 Feb 2017 12:23

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