, Volume 620, Issue 1, pp 77–89 | Cite as

Long-term change in limnology and invertebrates in Alaskan boreal wetlands

  • Robin M. Corcoran
  • James R. Lovvorn
  • Patricia J. Heglund
Primary research paper


Climate change is more pronounced at high northern latitudes, and may be affecting the physical, chemical, and biological attributes of the abundant wetlands in boreal forests. On the Yukon Flats, located in the boreal forest of northeast Alaska, wetlands originally sampled during 1985–1989 were re-sampled for water chemistry and macroinvertebrates in summer 2001–2003. Wetlands sampled lost on average 19% surface water area between these periods. Total nitrogen and most metal cations (Na, Mg, and Ca, but not K) increased between these periods, whereas total phosphorus and chlorophyll a (Chl a) declined. These changes were greater in wetlands that had experienced more drying (decreased surface area). Compared with 1985–1989, densities of cladocerans, copepods, and ostracods in both June and August were much higher in 2002–2003, whereas densities of amphipods, gastropods, and chironomid larvae were generally lower. In comparisons among wetlands in 2002–2003 only, amphipod biomass was lower in wetlands with lower Chl a, which might help explain the decline of amphipods since the late 1980s when Chl a was higher. The decline in Chl a corresponded to greatly increased zooplankton density in June, suggesting a shift in carbon flow from scrapers and deposit-feeders to water-column grazers. Declines in benthic and epibenthic deposit-feeding invertebrates suggest important food web effects of climate change in otherwise pristine wetlands of the boreal forest.


Climate change Drying of wetlands Invertebrate communities Limnological change Wetland food webs 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin M. Corcoran
    • 1
    • 2
  • James R. Lovvorn
    • 1
  • Patricia J. Heglund
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA
  2. 2.US Fish and Wildlife ServiceSonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife RefugeCalipatriaUSA
  3. 3.US Geological SurveyUpper Midwest Environmental Science CenterLa CrosseUSA
  4. 4.US Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3National Wildlife Refuge SystemLaCrosseUSA

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