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Long-Term Experiments Reveal Strong Interactions Between Lemmings and Plants in the Fennoscandian Highland Tundra
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Arcum)
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2014 (English)In: Ecosystems (New York. Print), ISSN 1432-9840, E-ISSN 1435-0629, Vol. 17, no 4, 606-615 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Both the theory and the observations suggest that, there are strong links between herbivores and plants in terrestrial ecosystems; although, the effect of herbivores on plant community biomass is often attributed to variations in plant palatability. The existence of a strong link is commonly tested by constructing exclosures that exclude herbivores during a period of time. We here present data from two long-term (9 and 20 years, respectively) herbivore exclosure studies in lemming habitats on arctic tundra in northernmost Norway. The exclusion of all mammalian herbivores triggered strong increases in community level plant biomass and substantial changes in plant community composition. Palatable plants like graminoids and large bryophytes, as well as unpalatable plants like evergreen ericoids, deciduous shrubs, and lichens were all favored by excluding lemmings. These results reveal that a substantial increase in community biomass which occurs only when plant species capable of accumulating biomass are present, and palatability is a poor predictor of long-term responses of plants to excluding herbivores.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 17, no 4, 606-615 p.
Keyword [en]
tundra, arctic, vegetation, lemmings, herbivory, exclosures, trophic cascades
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-90415DOI: 10.1007/s10021-013-9740-6ISI: 000336397600004OAI: diva2:733557
Available from: 2014-07-10 Created: 2014-06-23 Last updated: 2016-05-20Bibliographically approved

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Olofsson, Johan
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Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences
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