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Snow cover consistently affects growth and reproduction of Empetrum hermaphroditum across latitudinal and local climatic gradients
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2014 (English)In: Alpine Botany, ISSN 1664-2201, E-ISSN 1664-221X, Vol. 124, no 2, 115-129 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Arctic ecosystems face strong changes in snow conditions due to global warming. In contrast to habitat specialists, species occupying a wide range of microhabitats under different snow conditions may better cope with such changes. We studied how growth and reproduction of the dominant dwarf shrub Empetrum hermaphroditum varied among three habitat types differing in winter snow depth and summer irradiation, and whether the observed patterns were consistent along a local climatic gradient (sub-continental vs. sub-oceanic climates) and along a latitudinal gradient (northern Sweden vs. central Norway). Habitat type explained most of the variation in growth and reproduction. Shoots from shallow snow cover and high summer irradiation habitats had higher numbers of flowers and fruits, lower ramet heights, shorter shoot segments, lower numbers of lateral shoots and total biomass but higher leaf density and higher relative leaf allocation than shoots from habitats with higher snow depth and lower summer irradiation. In addition, biomass, leaf allocation and leaf life expectancy were strongly affected by latitude, whereas local climate had strong effects on seed number and seed mass. Empetrum showed high phenotypic trait variation, with a consistent match between local habitat conditions and its growth and reproduction. Although study areas varied strongly with respect to latitude and local climatic conditions, response patterns of growth and reproduction to habitats with different environmental conditions were consistent. Large elasticity of traits suggests that Empetrum may have the potential to cope with changing snow conditions expected in the course of climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 124, no 2, 115-129 p.
Keyword [en]
Empetrum hermaphroditum, Snow cover gradient, Growth response
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URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-96628DOI: 10.1007/s00035-014-0137-8ISI: 000343084400005OAI: diva2:766697
Available from: 2014-11-28 Created: 2014-11-24 Last updated: 2016-05-20Bibliographically approved

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Milbau, Ann
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Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences
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