Changes in Tundra Pond Limnology: Re-sampling Alaskan Ponds After 40 Years
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The arctic tundra ponds at the International Biological Program (IBP) site in Barrow, AK, were studied extensively in the 1970s; however, very little aquatic research has been conducted there for over three decades. Due to the rapid climate changes already occurring in northern Alaska, identifying any changes in the ponds’ structure and function over the past 30–40 years can help identify any potential climate-related impacts. Current research on the IBP ponds has revealed significant changes in the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of these ponds over time. These changes include increased water temperatures, increased water column nutrient concentrations, the presence of at least one new chironomid species, and increased macrophyte cover. However, we have also observed significant annual variation in many measured variables and caution that this variation must be taken into account when attempting to make statements about longer-term change. The Barrow IBP tundra ponds represent one of the very few locations in the Arctic where long-term data are available on freshwater ecosystem structure and function. Continued monitoring and protection of these invaluable sites is required to help understand the implications of climate change on freshwater ecosystems in the Arctic.
KeywordsArctic tundra ponds Climate change Nutrients Algae Plant communities Species change Temperature
This project was funded in part by grants from the National Science Foundation Polar Programs (NSF-ARC-0909502) to VLL, and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Alaska Fish & Wildlife Fund, to MGB. Special thanks to Craig Tweedie, Gilda Victorino, Francisco Reyes, Christian Andresen, Gabriela Contreras, Christina Hernandez, and Shane Braegelman for field and lab assistance. We thank the Barrow Area Science Consortium (BASC) for logistics support at Barrow. Historic reports and data were provided by Vera Alexander and Dick Prentki.
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