Plant Ecology

, Volume 207, Issue 2, pp 321–331 | Cite as

Large-scale grazing history effects on Arctic-alpine germinable seed banks

  • Victoria T. GonzálezEmail author
  • Kari Anne Bråthen
  • Virve T. Ravolainen
  • Marianne Iversen
  • Snorre B. Hagen


Grazing constitutes a selective pressure on vegetation recruitment through modification of the seed banks. Here we address changes in seed bank density and its life history trait composition in century-old pastures, where contrasting reindeer densities have developed during the last decades. We cover the actual scales used by these wide-roaming herbivores by sampling 70 productive tundra habitats over 7,421 km2 in the reindeer summer pastures of Northern Norway. Results showed that the seed bank density was significantly lowered where reindeer densities had increased in recent decades, whereas the century-long history of grazing probably explains the main seed bank traits typical of grazing tolerant plants. The dominant trait characteristics were small seeds (<0.5 mg), seeds lacking dispersal mechanism and individuals with a graminoid growth form. Finally, differences between regions introduced trait variation independent of grazing history, reinforcing the importance of using scales covering several contexts when designing ecological studies.


Reindeer (Rangifer tarandusGrowth form Seed mass Diaspore morphology Temporal scale Spatial scale Context dependency 



We would like to thank the Norwegian Coast Guard, Leidulf Lund, Jarle Nilsen, and Kjell Nilsen for their help at the phytotron, Torstein Engelskjøn for help with species identification, Asle Lilletun, all the participants of Ecosystem Finnmark, and Tina Dahl, Alina Evans and Mette Nielsen for field assistance and Rolf Anker Ims and Nigel Yoccoz for discussions on the study design. This study is part of the “Ecosystem Finnmark” project, which was financed by the Norwegian Research Council.

Supplementary material

11258_2009_9676_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 24 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria T. González
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kari Anne Bråthen
    • 1
  • Virve T. Ravolainen
    • 1
  • Marianne Iversen
    • 2
  • Snorre B. Hagen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Sami CollegeGuovdageaidnu/KautokeinoNorway

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