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Pathways for Ecological Change in Canadian High Arctic Wetlands Under Rapid Twentieth Century Warming

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  • T. G. Sim, Leeds University
  • ,
  • G. T. Swindles, Leeds University, Carleton University
  • ,
  • P. J. Morris, Leeds University
  • ,
  • ,
  • D. Mullan, Queen's University, Belfast
  • ,
  • J. M. Galloway, Commission Geologique du Canada

We use paleoecological techniques to investigate how Canadian High Arctic wetlands responded to a mid-twentieth century increase in growing degree days. We observe an increase in wetness, moss diversity, and carbon accumulation in a polygon mire trough, likely related to ice wedge thaw. Contrastingly, the raised center of the polygon mire showed no clear response. Wet and dry indicator testate amoebae increased concomitantly in a valley fen, possibly relating to greater inundation from snowmelt followed by increasing evapotranspiration. This occurred alongside the appearance of generalist hummock mosses. A coastal fen underwent a shift from sedge to shrub dominance. The valley and coastal fens transitioned from minerogenic to organic-rich wetlands prior to the growing degree days increase. A subsequent shift to moss dominance in the coastal fen may relate to intensive grazing from Arctic geese. Our findings highlight the complex response of Arctic wetlands to warming and have implications for understanding their future carbon sink potential.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Pages (from-to)4726-4737
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

    Research areas

  • Arctic geese grazing, climate change, growing degree days, permafrost peatlands, shrubification, testate amoebae

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