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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Status and trends in Arctic vegetation: Evidence from experimental warming and long-term monitoring

Bjorkman, Anne D.; Garcia Criado, Mariana; Myers-Smith, Isla H.; Ravolainen, Virve; Jonsdottir, Ingibjorg Svala; Westergaard, Kristine Bakke; Lawler, James P.; Aronsson, Mora; Bennett, Bruce; Gardfjell, Hans; Heidmarsson, Starri; Stewart, Laerke; Normand, Signe


Changes in Arctic vegetation can have important implications for trophic interactions and ecosystem functioning leading to climate feedbacks. Plot-based vegetation surveys provide detailed insight into vegetation changes at sites around the Arctic and improve our ability to predict the impacts of environmental change on tundra ecosystems. Here, we review studies of changes in plant community composition and phenology from both long-term monitoring and warming experiments in Arctic environments. We find that Arctic plant communities and species are generally sensitive to warming, but trends over a period of time are heterogeneous and complex and do not always mirror expectations based on responses to experimental manipulations. Our findings highlight the need for more geographically widespread, integrated, and comprehensive monitoring efforts that can better resolve the interacting effects of warming and other local and regional ecological factors.


Arctic; Experimental warming; Long-term monitoring; Phenology; Vegetation change

Published in

AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
2020, Volume: 49, number: 3, pages: 678-692
Publisher: SPRINGER