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Differential Growth Responses of Cassiope tetragona, an Arctic Dwarf-Shrub, to Environmental Perturbations among Three Contrasting High- and Subarctic Sites
Responsible organisation
1993 (English)In: Oikos, ISSN 00301299, 16000706, Vol. 66, no 3, p. 389-402Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Three populations of Cassiope tetragona (Ericaceae) were subjected to in situ environmental perturbations simulating predictions of global warming. The populations were selected to represent different parts of the range of the species, one growing in a high arctic coastal heath at Ny-Ålesund (Svalbard, northern part of the species' range), one at a subarctic fellfield at 1150 m a.s.l. at Abisko, Swedish Lapland, and one in a subarctic tree-line heath at 450 m a.s.l. at Abisko, southern part of the species' range. The manipulations included nutrient addition, shading and two levels of temperature enhancement using passive greenhouses. The micrometeorological effects of the shading treatment was similar to that of a mountain birch canopy and the temperature enhancement treatments had the desired effect to increase the average air temperature by 2-4°C. Greenhouses which had a gap between the soil and the greenhouse plastic were particularly successful in creating the desired climatic perturbation without causing extreme maximum temperatures or other unwanted side-effects. The environmental manipulations caused strikingly different responses in the vegetative growth pattern of main shoots of C. tetragona among the three populations: at the subarctic tree-line heath, nutrient addition caused a substantial increase in growth, whereas it was the temperature enhancement treatments that caused increases, although smaller, at the subarctic fellfield and the high arctic heath sites. At the high arctic site, we also found growth reduced in response to shading, but at the subarctic sites, and particularly at the tree-line heath site, shading caused a marked etiolation of the shoots. Hence, different factors seem to produce very different responses in the vegetative growth of C. tetragona in different parts of its geographical range. We conclude that competition for nutrients and light are the main limiting factors for the growth of Cassiope tetragona near the lower distributional limit (LODIL) of the species, but that temperature is the main limiting factor in the northern parts of its range, and at high altitudes in the southern parts of its range. We also suggest that the direct effect of predicted future climatic warming on the growth of Cassiope tetragona will increase towards the north, whereas a possible indirect effect of increasing nutrient availability following a temperature increase will be the main effect in the southern and lower parts of its range. These responses could, however, be modified by shading from other species responding to environmental change by increased growth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
[Nordic Society Oikos, Wiley] , 1993. Vol. 66, no 3, p. 389-402
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Natural Sciences
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URN: urn:nbn:se:polar:diva-3867DOI: 10.2307/3544933OAI: oai:DiVA.org:polar-3867DiVA, id: diva2:1161929
Available from: 2017-12-01 Created: 2017-12-01 Last updated: 2017-12-01

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Citation style
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