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Two Low Arctic Vegetation Maps near Atkasook, Alaska

Věra Komárková and P. J. Webber
Arctic and Alpine Research
Vol. 12, No. 4, Patterns of Vegetation and Herbivory in Arctic Tundra: Results from the Research on Arctic Tundra Environments (RATE) Program (Nov., 1980), pp. 447-472
DOI: 10.2307/1550494
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1550494
Page Count: 69
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Two Low Arctic Vegetation Maps near Atkasook, Alaska
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Abstract

Two maps (Map 1 -- 1:21,000, 177 km2; Map 2 -- 1:10,500, 33 km2) located near Atkasook, Alaska, on the Meade River provide an inventory of Low Arctic Tundra vegetation which was intended for use as a foundation for detailed ecosystem studies by the RATE (Research on Arctic Tundra Environments) program. Twelve map units for Map 1 and 21 map units for Map 2 were recognized in the course of field mapping on a subjective floristic-physiognomic basis. The vegetation and habitat diversity in the map area are greater than in areas mapped by similar methods at two more northerly, coastal sites -- Barrow and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. Moisture and permafrost appear to be the primary environmental controls of vegetation; disturbance by river and wind erosion and duration of snow cover strongly affect vegetation locally and can be recognized on the maps. The differences between vegetation types on surfaces of different ages indicate a minimal age of 4000 yr for complex tundra plant communities in the map area. The mean aboveground, vascular plant production of the mapped area is estimated at 104 g m-2 yr-1 (Map 1) and 99 g m-2 yr-1 (Map 2). The maps are applicable to a significant portion of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) where stabilized sand dunes occur on 13,000 km2 of the Arctic Coastal Plain. They can serve as a ground-truth source for efforts to map the NPR-A using satellite remote sensing. Special-purpose maps can also be derived from the present maps.

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