Changes in Tree Growth, Biomass and Vegetation Over a 13-Year Period in the Swedish Sub-Arctic
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This study was conducted in the Swedish sub-Arctic, near Abisko, in order to assess the direction and scale of possible vegetation changes in the alpine–birch forest ecotone. We have re-surveyed shrub, tree and vegetation data at 549 plots grouped into 61 clusters. The plots were originally surveyed in 1997 and re-surveyed in 2010. Our study is unique for the area as we have quantitatively estimated a 19% increase in tree biomass mainly within the existing birch forest. We also found significant increases in the cover of two vegetation types—“birch forest-heath with mosses” and “meadow with low herbs”, while the cover of snowbed vegetation decreased significantly. The vegetation changes might be caused by climate, herbivory and past human impact but irrespective of the causes, the observed transition of the vegetation will have substantial effects on the mountain ecosystems.
KeywordsSub-Arctic Vegetation change Treeline Biomass Birch forest
We sincerely thank Mats Jonasson, Patrik Åström, and Anders Petterson for conducting the field work, and the staff of the Swedish National Forest Inventory and Abisko Arctic Scientific Research Station for their support. We also thank Craig E. Tweedie and an anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments. The project was mainly funded by Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. Funding was also obtained from IPY project No 512 “Back to the Future”, Formas grant 214-2008-188.
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