sTUNDRA - Tundra ecosystem change: Scaling shrub expansion from site to biome

1st working group meeting

24.02.-07.03.2014

PIs: Isla Myers-Smith; Sarah Elmendorf

associated postdoc: Anne Bjorkman

Biodiversity change is being observed at both local and global scales; however, integration among scales to identify the underlying mechanisms presents a significant challenge. There is an urgent need to explore biome-wide biodiversity dynamics in rapidly changing tundra ecosystems. In situ observations indicate a localized proliferation of canopy-forming shrubs in recent decades, while remote-sensing datasets have documented a greening of tundra landscapes concurrent with recent climate warming. An increase in shrub cover is expected to change the structure of tundra ecosystems by altering local biodiversity, plant traits, species interactions, permafrost stability, carbon and nutrient cycling, energy fluxes and soil–atmosphere exchange of water. Establishing a causal link between the observed remote-sensing greening signal and shrub expansion at the biome-scale, or determining if both observations co-vary with the same environmental drivers, could provide a critical breakthrough for quantifying spatial variation in tundra ecosystem change. A sufficient number of local observations now exist to allow us to conduct the first quantitative, biome-wide assessment of the capacity of remotely-sensed data to predict on-the-ground vegetation change. We propose to test the mechanistic linkages among climate warming, growth and cover change, remotely-sensed greening, and ancillary information on species traits and range distributions of tundra shrub species. With sufficient predictive ability, local data could be extended with remotely-sensed data to make biome-scale projections of future vegetation change. By integrating across scales, this proposed research will provide a fundamental contribution to the monitoring of biodiversity and the ecological impacts of global change.

Participants
Laia Andreu Hayles (Columbia University); Pieter Beck (Joint Research Center); Anne Bjorkman (University of British Colombia); Daan Blok (University of Copenhagen); Hans Cornelissen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam); Sarah Elmendorf (NEON); Bruce Forbes (Arctic Centre, University of Lapland); Scott Goetz (Woods Hole Research Center); Kevin Guay (Woods Hole Research Center); Janneke HilleRisLambers (University of Washington); Robert Hollister (Grand Valley State University); Jens Kattge (Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry); Isla Myers-Smith (University of Edinburgh); Signe Normand (Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL); Christian Rixen (WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF); Nadja Rüger (iDiv); Gabriela Schaepman-Strub (University of Zurich); Mark Vellend (Université de Sherbrooke); Martin Wilmking (Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald); Sonja Wipf (WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF)

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2nd working group meeting

04.-08.05.2015

PIs: Isla Myers-Smith; Anne Bjorkman

Ecological investigations of global change are often limited by the logistical difficulty of measuring vegetation change over large regions. To address this issue, we combine on-the-ground surveys, plant trait measurements and satellite imagery with sophisticated statistical tools to ask whether wide-spread 'greening' observed in climatically sensitive tundra ecosystems reflects increased shrub growth caused by warming. Our research allows us to detect and quantify biodiversity change in a warming world by scaling vegetation dynamics from site to biome.

Participants
Pieter Simon Alexander Beck (European Commission); Anne Bjorkman (iDiv), Anne Blach Overgaard (Aarhus University), Sarah Elmendorf (National Ecological Observatory Network); Damien Georges (University of Edinburgh); Isla Myers-Smith (University of Edinburgh); Signe Normand (Aarhus University); Janet Prevey (WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF); Christian Rixen (WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF); Nadja Rüger (iDiv); Haydn Thomas (University of Edinburgh); Sonja Wipf (WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF)

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Publication

Myers-Smith IH, Elmendorf SC, Beck PSA et al. (2015) Climate sensitivity of shrub growth across the tundra biome. Nature Clim. Change. see here

Prevéy J., Vellend M., Rüger N., Hollister R.D., Bjorkman A.D., Myers-Smith I.H., Elmendorf S.C., Clark K., Cooper E.J., Elberling B., Fosaa A.M., Henry G.H., Høye T.T., Jónsdóttir I.S., Klanderud K., Lévesque E., Mauritz M., Molau U., Natali S.M., Oberbauer S.F., Panchen Z.A., Post E., Rumpf S.B., Schmidt N.M., Schuur E.A., Semenchuk P.R., Troxler T., Welker J.M., Rixen C. (2017) Greater temperature sensitivity of plant phenology at colder sites: implications for convergence across northern latitudes. Global Change Biology [Epub ahead of print]. see here

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