Presentation on theme: "Plants in the Arctic Region"— Presentation transcript:
1 Plants in the Arctic Region Changes in the Landscape over timePresented by Marie Silver
2 Map of AntarcticaThe majority of the Antarctic continent is covered by permanent ice and snow leaving less than 1% available for colonization by plants. Most of this ice and snow-free land is found along the Antarctic Peninsula, its associated islands and in coastal regions around the edge of the rest of the Antarctic continent. Even in the most inhospitable ice-free habitats, such as inland mountains and nunataks, life can still be found.
3 Antarctica Characteristics Covered in ice and snow – little land for plant colonization“Summer growing season” (Dec. – Feb.) near freezing.High winds all year roundA virtual desert inland, several meters of snow fall along coast annuallyNo trees or shrubs, only two species flowering plants,( in South Orkney Islands, the South Shetland Islands and western Antarctic Peninsula.)Moss and lichen in wetter areas.Greatest species diversity along western side of Antarctic Peninsula, where climate is generally warmer and wetter.Temps near freezing in summer (December-February), In winter, monthly mean temps near coast between -10°C and -30°C, inland average winter temperature at South Pole -60°C / -76°F. Temps fall as you leave the coast and as continent slopes upwards. Temp. at Vostok station -89.2°C / °F (lowest recorded on earth). High wind also large factor in climate - Average wind speed:37 kmh / 23 mph, maximum recorded gust: kmh / 154 mphDistribution of precipitation very marked, several meters of snow annually fall along coast but interior annual snowfall of a few centimeters, making much of the continent a desert. After the snow has fallen it will be redistributed by the winds, particularly in the coastal areas where the downslope katabic winds can be in excess of 40 kts for long periods of time
4 Most ice and snow-free land is found along the Antarctic Peninsula, associated islands, in coastal regions around the continent edge.There are no trees or shrubs, and only two species of flowering plants, Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) and Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) are found, occurring on the South Orkney Islands, the South Shetland Islands and along the western Antarctic Peninsula. The vegetation is predominantly made up of lower plant groups (mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi) which are specially adapted to surviving in extreme environments, in particular, tolerating low temperatures and dehydration. There are, in total, around 100 species of mosses, 25 species of liverworts, 300 to 400 species of lichens and 20-odd species of macro-fungi. The greatest diversity of species is found along the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula where the climate is generally warmer and wetter than elsewhere in the Antarctic continent. Certain species of moss and lichen, however, have a widespread distribution and others specialize in surviving in very extreme conditions. In the dry valleys of Victoria Land, for example, where it is very dry and extremely cold, algae, fungi and lichens are found living in cracks and pore spaces inside the sandstone and two species flowering plants, Antarctic hair grass (Deschampsia antarctica) and Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) Vegetation predominantly lower plant groups (mosses, liverworts, lichens and fungi) specially adapted to surviving in extreme environments, in particular, tolerating low temperatures and dehydration.Certain species of moss and lichen, however, have a widespread distribution and others specialize in surviving in very extreme conditions. About 100 species of mosses, 25 species of liverworts, 300 to 400 species of lichens and 20-odd species of macro-fungi are adapted to the environment.
5 Plant Life in the Antarctic Region Antarctic Pearlwort Colobanthus quitensisHairgrass Deschampsia antarcticaTussock Grass, Falkland IslandsLichens, Verrucaria, Xanthoria, Turgidosculum (Mastodia), Lecanora Mosses, Muelleriella crassifolia Tussock Grass Puccinellia macquariensisPhotographs by Rob Seppelt
7 The colors on the map indicate the differences that occur in the general outward appearance of vegetation (physiognomy). The CAVM team grouped more than 400 described plant communities into 15 physiognomic units based on plant growth forms. An international team of arctic vegetation scientists representing the six countries of the Arctic—Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States—prepared the map.Fairbanks, Alaska, USABy Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Mapping TeamContactDonald A. Walker
9 TundraTundraTundra, from Finnish word tunturi, meaning treeless plainExtremely cold climateWinter -60 F (-51 C)Summer 32 F (0 C) to 50 F (10 C)> 55 days per year with a mean temperature higher than 32 F (0 C).Low biotic diversitySimple vegetation structureLimitation of drainageShort season of growth and reproduction – 6-10 weeksEnergy and nutrients in the form of dead organic materialLarge population oscillationsAnnual precipitation > 10” yearPlants: low lying, small leaved, shallow rooted. Mosses, grasses, herbs, lichens and small shrubs.Soil often frozen, permafrost (permanent ice) within a meter of surface. Tundra soils thick layers of partly decomposed plant material due to low temperatures which prevent rapid decay. In wet conditions peat deposits several meters thick may accumulate.(these soils and mires represent an important sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide.)Flowering plants; purple saxifrage, mountain avens, wild crocus, arctic poppies, buttercups, cinquefoil, moss campion, campanulas, arctic azaleas and arctic lupine.
10 Tundra Landscape Tussock Sedge, dwarf shrub, moss Low Shrub High Arctic mostly moss followed by sedges and the small amounts of forbs and grasses, Low arctic (edge nearer taiga) higher amounts of evergreen and deciduous shrubs, mosses. Still low amounts of forbs and grasses.Sedge grass, moss wetlandLow grass, forbs, low shrub
12 Tundra Plant Facts Often reproduce by rootstocks or runner Grow in clumps to create microclimatesMay bloom from buds that are one to two years oldSeed may germinate and grow while still attached to parent plantSimilar to desert plants, aerial parts reduced in favor of root mass, larger roots capable of storing enough energy and minerals to allow instant growth in springRefer to the Tundra Adaptations sheet
13 TaigaFound in regions of subarctic and cold continental climate. Long, severe winters (six months with mean temperatures below freezing), short summers (50 to 100 frost-free days)Dominant species: tamarack, spruce, fir, mosses, ferns. Typically needle leaf plants adapted to cold and droughtSparse food supply, supports fewer animal species than a more deciduous dominant system (fewer than tundra environment)Expedition to Siberia: ( As Earth’s temperature rises, what is happening to the great northern forests of Siberia? Thick stands of spruce, pine, aspen, and larch trees occupy a vast stretch of land across northern Asia and Europe, straddling roughly half of the Arctic Circle. Will the trees in this ecosystem (called taiga) begin to grow faster and to gradually extend their reach farther north into the treeless tundra, as some scientists predict? Or will hotter, drier conditions stress the trees, thereby inhibiting growth and leaving the forest prone to invasive species and wildfires, as new evidence suggests?A small international team of scientists from NASA and Russia’s Academy of Science are going to find answers. Beginning July 28, 2007, the team of six remote sensing and forest ecosystem scientists will head to Siberia to find out…
14 Taiga Plants White and Black Spruce Picea glauca, Picea mariana Jack Pine, Pinus banksianaW/B Spruce grow best in lower temps, (60 deg or lower) may initially colonize the tundra as climate shifts but eventually are seen to die backJack Pine adapted to dry conditions often germinate after firesBalsam Fir, Abies balsamia
15 Linking the Arctic to Your Curriculum Arctic plant study, comparing biomes (e,g, tundra to bog, arctic tundra to alpine tundra)Antarctic plant study, cold desert versus warm desertPlant adaptations in general, growing seasonsClimate Change, what can plants teach us, which plant communities most vulnerablePlant Adaptations - what are the phases of a plant’s life cycle, how does each phase affect animal populations in an area, what role does sunlight, angle of sun play in the phases of a plant’s life, how does temperature, rainfall, snowfall affect the growth of plants. Comparing plants found in arctic region to your local area. Comparison of plant characteristics in Antarctica to similar ones in desert regions in the U.S.Phenology –what changes have occurred in the timing of flowering, budding or leaf drop in your area, how does this compare to other parts of the U.S. or world, how vulnerable are certain habitats to global warmingSuccession – which abiotic/biotic factors control the success of a species found in a chosen study site, how does soil nutrient level, soil moisture affect the diversity of species in an area, what species dominate in your area, can you tell what stage you are in successionally, how do the stages witnessed in Glacier Bay compare to those found in your area, how will global climate change affect plant species type and diversity in your area, how does this compare to arctic regions. how do plants opportunistically convert a hostile area into a hospitable one. How does this phenomenon relate to a shift from tundra to forest or meadow to forest (how does it connect to warming conditions in the arctic?)Lichenometry – when did the glaciers recede locally, how old is this rock, how long does it take under certain conditions for plant colonies to appear (lichens initially) on bare rockDendrochronology – what can the growth patterns of a tree tell us about the environment around it, what can trees tell us about history, environmental change, how can tree rings be correlated with other data about the surrounding environment.New York Times article on Vermont
16 Suggested Disciplines for Inquiry Plant Adaptations – Studying plant responses to cold temperatures, low moisture conditions, short growing seasons.Phenology - studying timing of recurring natural phenomena in response to seasonal and climatic changes to the environment.Succession - the observed process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over timeLichenometry - a method of numerical dating that uses the size of lichen colonies on a rock surface to determine the surface's age. Lichenometry is used for rock surfaces less than about 10,000 years old.Dendrochronology/ Dendroclimatology - using tree rings to analyze temporal and spatial patterns of various processes (biological, physical, or cultural) - the study of tree rings to infer past climatic conditions, based on recent growth-climate relations.Plant Community Comparisons, plants as indicators of climate change, Using fast plants to demonstrate important arctic plant adaptation: quick to germinate when snow melts, will often not flower but go strait to root stock..
17 Comparing Biomes Temperate Deciduous Tundra Bog Taiga Deserts as compared to bare rock areas or very recently de-glaciated
18 Northern TemperateEarly plants boreal or taiga (relicts of this remain, e.g. Tamarack, ground pine, mosses)Typical forest plant combinations include mixed deciduous (maple, oak, nut trees) and pine, flowering shrubs and grasses (generally shade tolerant species of all kinds)Meadows, grasslands - soil tends to be deep and fertile, three types of grassland, tall, mixed grass and short. Grasslands often managed through fire or grazing. Largest areas in the U.S., found in the midwest where extreme weather (cold winters, hot summers) predominates.Continental glaciers receded 10, ,000 years agoEarly climate (after glaciers) cool and moist, followed by warmer drier periods. Average temperatures of 50 degrees F.Contrast to Glacier Bay – 250 years ago
19 BogOpen or sparsely treed wetland area poor in mineral nutrients, water supplied exclusively by precipitation; typically acidic.Found in variety of successional stages including tundra, taiga and deciduous/climax forests. Plant species and soil composition similar to tundra.Like arctic, unique and demanding physical and chemical characteristics of bogs result in plant communities with special adaptations to low nutrient levels, waterlogged conditions, and acidic waters, e.g. carnivorous plants.Plants: sphagnum moss, cotton grass, cranberry, blueberry, pine, Labrador tea, and tamarack.
20 Areas of Inquiry: Plant Adaptations Using fast plants to explore:How plants adapt to cold, dry conditions, sun angle, boggy conditions, high winds, short growing seasonResearch “strategies” plants have developed to succeed, dispersal mechanisms, nitrogen utilization, faster germination, longer life cyclesComparing and contrasting plants in temperate areas, deserts, sub-tropical areas to Arctic and Antarctic regionsSee Alaska Plant Growth handout; Using fast plants to demonstrate important arctic plant adaptation: quick to germinate when snow melts, will often not flower but go straight to root stock..
21 ResourcesResearch progress on climate change impacts in the Siberian TaigaWoods Hole Research Center provides current research on critical habitatsWisconsin Fastplants official websiteBluePlanet Biomes provides plant lists for tundra, taiga other ecosystems,
22 Phenology – Background from the Greek phainomai, "to appear" Historical contextThomas Jefferson – MonticelloEarly 1900’s – Dr. McKay – Thousand Eyes Project, Smithsonian flowering study, Aldo Leopold, Japanese Cherry BlossomsRecent WorkCornell Lilac Study and Project Budbreak, Oregon State University Phenology Project, USA – NPN, Univ. of Wisconsin, Green Bay Cofrin Center for BiodiversityStudent Participation ProjectsProject GLOBE, Project Budburst, PlantWatch, Earth AliveEarliest record keeping – Japan in Kyoto since 9th century – long period from 11th century until 14th century colder than the average, while the years since have been characterized by earlier bloomingLarge body of work in Canada – Thousand Eyes, Plant WatchDr. Alexander MacKay, Superintendent of Schools, required schools across Nova Scotia to collect data on both plan and animal phenologyCalled the father of Phenology, Robert Marsham began recording his 'Indications of Spring' starting in 1736 on his family estate near Norwich, Norfolk. Family kept on through 1958Aldo Leopold – nature journals including timing of plant growthPeterson and Shetler, Smithsonian Biologists compared flowering data for cherry trees from 1912 forwardRecent articles: (Cornell and Wisconsin) Early Blooming Lilacs are a sign of spring; and global warming –
23 Phenology Resources Articles and Links “Warming Trend Spells Early Arrival of Spring”, Rebecca James, Syracuse Post Standard, 12/19/04Phenology, The Study Of Nature's Cycles Of Life,Nat’l Sustainable Agriculture Info Service, Phenology links,The USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) facilitates collection and dissemination of phenological data to support global change research.Backyard Nature: Phenology, Noting When Things Happen,"Early-blooming lilacs are a sign of spring; and global warming", Desert News (Salt Lake City), Dec 16, 2004 by William Kates Associated PressLilac Data Sets: Schwartz, M.D. and J.M. Caprio, 2003,North American First Leaf and First Bloom Lilac Phenology Data, IGBP PAGES/World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Data Contribution Series # NOAA/NGDC Paleoclimatology Program, Boulder CO,National Center for Atmospheric Research, 2005,ITEX – established in late 1990 at a meeting of arctic tundra ecologists as a response to predictions that the human-enhanced greenhouse warming would occur earliest and most intensely at high latitudes. The initial objective of ITEX was to monitor phenology, growth and reproduction in major circumpolar vascular plant species in response to climate variations and environmental manipulations at sites throughout the tundra biome. The manipulations involve passive warming of tundra plots in open-top chambers (OTCs), and manipulating snow depth to alter growing season length. One finding - that species having a delayed flowering respond more readily to global warming than species having an already optimized floweringThe only existing study from the tundra biome of which we are aware, and which is based on 10 or more years, is the 11-yr monitoring of flowering phenology in central Iceland (subarctic–alpine) by Thórhallsdóttir (1998) . However, the phenological stage of the flora at the site was assessed only once per year, in early July, and the proportion of species in flower at that time was correlated with climatic variables and snow conditions
24 Phenology Resources, Cont. Student Involvement in PhenologyProject Budburst, students collect data on plant life cycle stages and participate in a national database collection effort,The Globe Program, classes participate using established protocol, monitoring environmental changes includes Project Budburst, Lilac Project, Hummingbird Migration, Green up and Green down, Arctic Bird Migration,(contact Betty Connor, North Star Borough School District, Fairbanks AK,Blooming Thermometers, activity demonstrating environmental affect on plant life cycles, NCAR, Climate Discovery Teachers Guide.Earth Alive:Plantwatch: contains protocol, teacher guides and lessons
25 Changes in Arctic Plant Dominance Ecological succession" the observed process of change in species structure of an ecological community over time. Within any community some species may become less abundant over some time interval, or they may even vanish from the ecosystem altogether. Similarly, over some time interval, other species in the community may become more abundant, or new species enter the community from adjacent ecosystems. This observed change over time is "ecological succession".
26 From Tundra to ForestExploring what a warming arctic region can mean for plant lifeWhat kind of work has been done on this subject (Glacier Bay, The Tundra Project)Comparing change in the arctic region to change closer to homeRecent article - ( Chile, Europe) Study: Global warming chasing plants uphill of 171 species studies, 118 had moved uphillRecent studies showing, increased compression of tundra between arctic ocean and taigaArticle from Julie B-G Tundra – Green is the New Black
27 Natural History of Glacier Bay Warming increases nitrogen mineralization (and longer growing season) favors shrub species over other plant forms within 200 years. After 200 years new plant forms predominate, often those not normally found in the arctic environment.Bay is laboratory for study of ice-recessional phenomena and post-glacial biotic succession, under ice 250 years ago, recent ice retreat observed and well documented. Except higher elevations, retreating ice revealed extensive land and coastal area KeyFindings: moist lowland - post-glacial barrens succeed from tundra, through shrub land to young forest in 250 years; Plant colonization takes only a few years, early vegetation mat is long-lasting with change occurring primarily in response to physical changes, e.g slope and drainage, rather than biological changes, such as competition;Issues – invasives altering classical succession, climate change will also
28 Recent Research on Glacial Recession/Climate Change Earlier hypotheses –White Spruce trees continue as dominant taiga species may be false (strong adaptation to cool wet conditions)Tundra Biome becomes increasingly compressed between Boreal and Arctic OceanCertain species, habitats highly vulnerable to changes in temperature/moisture/snow coverInvasives may complicate species adaptationsRecent Research suggests that thawing permafrost destabilizes soil (tress fall over, sink holes develop), wetlands and ponds may drain,Precipitation may increase overall but at times when plants cant use itInsect populations may shift, e.g bark beetles may thrive, spruce bud wormsSome species may not be able to compete with warm adapted invasives.Increasing Shrubbification, early change to spruce in tundra, later dies back..
30 Comparing Glacier Bay/Arctic to Your Region How does the transition occurring in Glacier Bay compare to transitions found in your region such as:Farm meadow to forestLake to swampSwamp to meadowWhat are most important factors for plant community transitions (succession) in your area as compared to the Arctic (fire, climate, human intervention)
31 Succession Resources Activities Articles Tundra to Taiga Board Game: A modification of the Floristic Relay game,Biological Succession in a Macro and Microecosystem –lab exercises using microbesEcosystems and Climate Activities – using fastplants or other quick germinating seeds to demonstrate succession (University of Illinois)Glaciers of Kenai Fjords, Activities exploring relationship between ecological and geographical chance and glaciation, National Park Service, Alaska,ArticlesGastaldo, R.A., DiMichele, W.A.,and Pfefferkorn, H.W. Out of the Icehouse into the Greenhouse: A Late Paleozoic Analogue for Modern Global Vegetational Change: GSA today v. 10, p. 1-7.Climate Change and Biodiversity in the Arctic-Nordic Perspectives, Phillip A Wookey. Conference; Melting Ice – A Hot TopicDuke Forest Succession,Succession in Michigan Forests,
32 How Polar Scientists Use Lichenometry Early work in Lichenometry - geologic dating of substratesCurrent: primarily used for corroboration or for recently receding glaciers (past 500 years)Other applications – historic sites, biological indicatorsLichen can be preserved on old rock faces for up to 10,000 years, providing the maximum age limit of the technique. The use of lichenometry is of increased value for dating deposited surfaces over the past 500 years as radiocarbon dating techniques are less efficient over this period. Among the potential problems of the technique are the difficulty of correctly identifying the species, delay between exposure and colonization, varying growth rates from region to region as well as the fact that growth rates are not always constant over time, dependence of the rate of growth upon substrate texture and composition, climate and finally, actually finding the biggest one. Lichenometry has been used widely in the Rocky Mountains for dating Holocene moraines and other rock surfaces. Luckman and Osborn (1979) and Osborn (1985) found lichenometry can provide absolute ages for relatively young (less than 500-year old) glacial deposits in the Canadian Rockies, but only relative ages for older neoglacial deposits.
33 Activities and Articles: Lichenometry Using Lichenometry in human history applications“Lichens, Lichenometry and Global Warming” by Richard Armstrong. Microbiologist, Sept 2004Using Lichenometric data curves in Southern Norway to date rocksDating glacial Landforms using LichenometryActivitiesLichenometry: An Accessible Method for Dating Recent History (Geological and Manmade)Studying an Alaskan Glacier using Lichenometry
34 Other Resources Biomes of the World, http://www.mbgnet.net/index.html A Natural History of Glacier Bay,Arctic Geobotanical AtlasAntarctic Background, Activities