, Volume 41, Supplement 3, pp 187–196 | Cite as

Changes Versus Homeostasis in Alpine and Sub-Alpine Vegetation Over Three Decades in the Sub-Arctic

  • Henrik HedenåsEmail author
  • Bengt Å. Carlsson
  • Urban Emanuelsson
  • Alistair D. Headley
  • Christer Jonasson
  • Brita M. Svensson
  • Terry V. Callaghan


Plant species distributions are expected to shift and diversity is expected to decline as a result of global climate change, particularly in the Arctic where climate warming is amplified. We have recorded the changes in richness and abundance of vascular plants at Abisko, sub-Arctic Sweden, by re-sampling five studies consisting of seven datasets; one in the mountain birch forest and six at open sites. The oldest study was initiated in 1977–1979 and the latest in 1992. Total species number increased at all sites except for the birch forest site where richness decreased. We found no general pattern in how composition of vascular plants has changed over time. Three species, Calamagrostis lapponica, Carex vaginata and Salix reticulata, showed an overall increase in cover/frequency, while two Equisetum taxa decreased. Instead, we showed that the magnitude and direction of changes in species richness and composition differ among sites.


Ecosystem structure Heaths Meadows Mountain birch forest Plant biodiversity Plant community ecology 



We sincerely thank the staff of the Abisko Scientific Research Station for their support, in particular Philpp Theuringer. We also thank Craig E. Tweedie for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript and two anonymous reviewers for valuable comments. The project was financed by a grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) 327-2007-833 as part of the International project “Retrospective and prospective vegetation change in the Polar Regions: Back to the Future Project (BTF; IPY Project number ID No 512). This work was also partially supported by the FORMAS projects “Climate change, impacts and adaptation in the sub Arctic: a case study from the northern Swedish mountains” (214-2008-188) and “Advanced Simulation of Arctic climate change and impact on Northern regions” (214-2009-389).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henrik Hedenås
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Bengt Å. Carlsson
    • 3
  • Urban Emanuelsson
    • 4
  • Alistair D. Headley
    • 5
  • Christer Jonasson
    • 2
  • Brita M. Svensson
    • 3
  • Terry V. Callaghan
    • 6
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Forest Resource ManagementSwedish University of Agricultural ScienceUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Abisko Scientific Research StationAbiskoSweden
  3. 3.Department of Plant Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Swedish Biodiversity CentreUppsalaSweden
  5. 5.West YorkshireUK
  6. 6.Royal Swedish Academy of SciencesStockholmSweden
  7. 7.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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