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International Journal of Biometeorology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 23–30 | Cite as

Tundra plant structure and production in relation to the environment

  • F. E. Wielgolaski
Article

Abstract

The alpine and polar climatic limit for growth of woody plants is very much dependent on the mean temperatures of the warmest three or four summer months. Tundra plants with perennating buds close to the ground are sheltered by insulating snow cover. Many tundra plants can grow at temperatures 5–10°C below 0°C and also have low optimum temperatures. Total net production of tundra plants may be as high as 900 g/m2/yr as dry weight in moist and eutrophic low alpine shrub tundra and in antarctic moss mats. The variation in tundra plant production is often observed to be greater between different stands (communities) within one locality than between localities, because of very important variation in soil moisture and nutrients between the stands. On a global scale the biomass of vascular plants increases by an order of magnitude from the climatic severe polar desert to semidesert and again from there to moist shrub tundra. The cryptogam biomass increases only 2–10 fold from polar desert to low arctic shrub tundra. To a certain limit unfavourable climatic conditions are worse to above- than to belowground plant parts. Highest root biomass compared to top (up to 20 times higher) is observed in wet monocotyledonous polar and alpine communities. In polar desert root biomass is small again, as compared to tops and also in lower latitudes and altitudes of temperate regions.

Keywords

Biomass Snow Cover Root Biomass Belowground Plant Shrub Tundra 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Swets & Zeitlinger B.V. 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. E. Wielgolaski
    • 1
  1. 1.Botinical LaboratoryUniversity of OsloBlindern-Oslo 3Norway

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