Decreasing snow cover alters functional composition and diversity of Arctic tundra

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/320391

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Niittynen , P , Heikkinen , R K & Luoto , M 2020 , ' Decreasing snow cover alters functional composition and diversity of Arctic tundra ' , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , vol. 117 , no. 35 , pp. 21480-21487 . https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2001254117

Title: Decreasing snow cover alters functional composition and diversity of Arctic tundra
Author: Niittynen, Pekka; Heikkinen, Risto K.; Luoto, Miska
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Geosciences and Geography
University of Helsinki, Department of Geosciences and Geography
Date: 2020-09-01
Number of pages: 8
Belongs to series: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
ISSN: 0027-8424
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/320391
Abstract: The Arctic is one of the least human-impacted parts of the world, but, in turn, tundra biome is facing the most rapid climate change on Earth. These perturbations may cause major reshuffling of Arctic species compositions and functional trait profiles and diversity, thereby affecting ecosystem processes of the whole tundra region. Earlier research has detected important drivers of the change in plant functional traits under warming climate, but studies on one key factor, snow cover, are almost totally lacking. Here we integrate plot-scale vegetation data with detailed climate and snow information using machine learning methods to model the responsiveness of tundra communities to different scenarios of warming and snow cover duration. Our results show that decreasing snow cover, together with warming temperatures, can substantially modify biotic communities and their trait compositions, with future plant communities projected to be occupied by taller plants with larger leaves and faster resource acquisition strategies. As another finding, we show that, while the local functional diversity may increase, simultaneous biotic homogenization across tundra communities is likely to occur. The manifestation of climate warming on tundra vegetation is highly dependent on the evolution of snow conditions. Given this, realistic assessments of future ecosystem functioning require acknowledging the role of snow in tundra vegetation models.
Subject: remote sensing
species distribution modeling
microclimate
winter ecology
alpine mountain
PLANT TRAITS
COMMUNITY COMPOSITION
SPECIES DISTRIBUTION
BIODIVERSITY
VEGETATION
ECOLOGY
PRODUCTIVITY
FRAMEWORK
DATABASE
SHIFTS
1171 Geosciences
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