Tundra in the Rain: Differential Vegetation Responses to Three Years of Experimentally Doubled Summer Precipitation in Siberian Shrub and Swedish Bog Tundra
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Precipitation amounts and patterns at high latitude sites have been predicted to change as a result of global climatic changes. We addressed vegetation responses to three years of experimentally increased summer precipitation in two previously unaddressed tundra types: Betula nana-dominated shrub tundra (northeast Siberia) and a dry Sphagnum fuscum-dominated bog (northern Sweden). Positive responses to approximately doubled ambient precipitation (an increase of 200 mm year−1) were observed at the Siberian site, for B. nana (30 % larger length increments), Salix pulchra (leaf size and length increments) and Arctagrostis latifolia (leaf size and specific leaf area), but none were observed at the Swedish site. Total biomass production did not increase at either of the study sites. This study corroborates studies in other tundra vegetation types and shows that despite regional differences at the plant level, total tundra plant productivity is, at least at the short or medium term, largely irresponsive to experimentally increased summer precipitation.
KeywordsWater addition Plant traits Irrigation Primary production Subarctic High latitude
We are grateful to the staff of the BioGeoChemical Cycles of Permafrost Ecosystems Lab in Yakutsk for logistic support and to the staff of the Kytalyk State Resource Reservation for their permission and hospitality to conduct research in the Kytalyk reserve. Special thanks to Sergei Karsanaev, Roman Sofronov, Elena Ivanova, Lena Paryadina, Stanislav Ksenofontov and Trofim Maximov. We also thank the staff of the Abisko Research station for technical assistance and Milo Keuper for practical support. The helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. Financial support was offered to FK by the Darwin Centre for Biogeosciences (Grant 142.161.042) and ANS Scholarship 2008, and to RA by the Dutch Polar Program (ALW-NPP Grant 851.30.023) and the EU-ATANS (Grant FP6 506004).
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