, Volume 134, Issue 1, pp 119-129

Environmental influences on the structure of sedge meadows in the Canadian High Arctic

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Abstract

Wet sedge-dominated communities (sedge meadows) were sampled in five lowland oases in the Queen Elizabeth Islands of the Canadian High Arctic to assess species-environment relationships. The sites spanned 4° of latitude, and varied in lithology and intensity of grazing by muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus). A suite of 8 vascular species were common in all meadow stands, with an additional 4–6 species found in most stands. The position of these species in dominance-diversity curves was not significantly different between grazed and ungrazed meadows however, the grazed sites appeared to follow a log-normal distribution, while the ungrazed sites were more geometric. Redundancy analysis indicated that grazing intensity is important in determining structure in arctic sedge meadows, largely through increasing the cover of bryophytes and the availability of nitrogen. Greatest species richness was found in the more southerly sites which were moderately grazed and had diversity in microtopography. Abbreviations: AF – Alexandra Fiord, PBP – Polar Bear Pass, PMB – Princess Marie Bay, TL – Truelove Lowland, SP – Sverdrup Pass Nomenclature: Porsild, A.E. & Cody, W.J. 1980. Vascular plants of continental Northwest Territories. National Museums of Canada, Ottawa.