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

First meeting: 24.02.-07.03.2014

Isla Myers-Smith
Sarah Elmendorf

Working group postdoc:
Anne Bjorkman

iDiv members:
Nadja Rüger
Jens Kattge

Project summary:
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.

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)

Meeting report

Second meeting:04.-08.05.2015

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)

Meeting report


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. et al. (2017) Greater temperature sensitivity of plant phenology at colder sites: implications for convergence across northern latitudes. Global Change Biology 23: 2660-2671. See here

Bjorkman A.D., Myers‐Smith I.H., Elmendorf S.C., et al. (2018) Tundra Trait Team: A database of plant traits spanning the tundra biome. Global Ecology and Biogeography 27:1402–1411. See here

Thomas HJD, Myers‐Smith IH, Bjorkman AD, et al. (2018) Traditional plant functional groups explain variation in economic but not size‐related traits across the tundra biome. Global Ecology and Biogeography 2018;00:1–18. See here

Bjorkman A.D., Myers‐Smith I.H. et al. (2018) Plant functional trait change across a warming tundra biome. Nature 562: 57–62. See here

Myers‐Smith I.H., Kerby J.T. et al. (2020) Complexity revealed in the greening of the Arctic. Nature Climate Change 10: 106-117. See here

Thomas, H.J.D., Bjorkman, A.D. et al. (2020) Global plant trait relationships extend to the climatic extremes of the tundra biome. Nature Communications 11, 1351. See here

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