High Arctic vegetation after 70 years: a repeated analysis from Svalbard
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- Prach, K., Košnar, J., Klimešová, J. et al. Polar Biol (2010) 33: 635. doi:10.1007/s00300-009-0739-6
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We asked whether vegetation mapping repeated after 70 years revealed vegetation changes in the high Arctic. The study site is located at 78°38′N, 16°45′E, near Brucebyen at the Adolfbukta Bay (head of Billjefjorden) in central Spitsbergen (Svalbard), and encompasses an area of 2,042 × 521 m. The mapping carried out in 2008 did not reveal any changes in vegetation, since a previous study in 1936–1937, that could be attributed to climate change. We argue that our finding can be interpreted as evidence of a slow ecological response of constituent plants in such a harsh environment. Moreover, geographic isolation may limit establishment and expansion of new species. Some successional changes were only due to erosion–accumulation processes connected especially to stream activity.