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Responses of Subarctic-Alpine Plant Communities to Simulated Environmental Change: Biodiversity of Bryophytes, Lichens, and Vascular Plants

Ulf Molau and Juha M. Alatalo
Ambio
Vol. 27, No. 4, Research for Mountain Area Development: Europe (Jun., 1998), pp. 322-329
Published by: Springer on behalf of Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4314742
Page Count: 8
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Responses of Subarctic-Alpine Plant Communities to Simulated Environmental Change: Biodiversity of Bryophytes, Lichens, and Vascular Plants
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Abstract

The predicted changes in climate over the next 50 years are expected to be most pronounced in arctic and subarctic regions. In the present study, we examine the responses of a subarctic-alpine rich meadow and poor heath community to factorial manipulations of temperature and nutrient treatments. Specifically, we address response to the treatments in terms of biodiversity and relative cover of the bryophyte, lichen and vascular plant communities. We point out that the responses differ among mosses, lichens, vascular plants, and communities, and this will probably cause shifts in the dominance of both bottom layer and canopy layer species. It is important to note that the decrease in cover and species number of the bottom layer mainly occurred due to a decline in mosses; in contrast, lichen cover increased in all treatments in both communities. Climate change may thus cause a shift in the bottom layer from being dominated by mosses, to become dominated by lichens.

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