High Arctic vegetation after 70 years: a repeated analysis from Svalbard
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We asked whether vegetation mapping repeated after 70 years revealed vegetation changes in the high Arctic. The study site is located at 78°38′N, 16°45′E, near Brucebyen at the Adolfbukta Bay (head of Billjefjorden) in central Spitsbergen (Svalbard), and encompasses an area of 2,042 × 521 m. The mapping carried out in 2008 did not reveal any changes in vegetation, since a previous study in 1936–1937, that could be attributed to climate change. We argue that our finding can be interpreted as evidence of a slow ecological response of constituent plants in such a harsh environment. Moreover, geographic isolation may limit establishment and expansion of new species. Some successional changes were only due to erosion–accumulation processes connected especially to stream activity.
KeywordsVegetation mapping Vascular plants Bryophytes Climate change Svalbard Succession
This research was supported by the Ministry of Education of Czech Republic (INGO LA 341), Grant AV0Z60050516 from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and by MSM6007665801. Identification of some vascular plants was checked by Milan Štech (České Budějovice), of Lophozia by Jiří Váňa (Prague), and of Campylium by Lars Hedenäs (Stockholm). We thank to referees and Dieter Piepenburg for their comments, Brian Tlougan and Max Wade for English revision, and Petra Konvalinková for drawing the maps.
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