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Structurally novel biomes: a response to past warming in Beringia

Structurally novel biomes: a response to past warming in Beringia
Structurally novel biomes: a response to past warming in Beringia
At northern high latitudes, biosphere responses to and interactions with climate warming are expected to be significant during the 21st century. Most predictions of climate–biosphere interactions rely on experiments and observations in contemporary landscapes, e.g., modern distributions of vegetation types and their structural features are used to delimit potential biosphere–atmosphere feedbacks.
Paleorecords look beyond the present to examine vegetation configurations under climatic regimes that approximate future scenarios. To enhance the knowledge of arctic and subarctic ecosystems under varying climatic conditions, we analyzed pollen and macrofossil data from Beringia (northeast Siberia, Alaska, and northwest Canada; 130° E to 130° W) over the past 21000 years, with a focus on structural and functional features of the vegetation. During the early Holocene (13000–10000 cal yr BP), shrub tundra ecosystems responded to climate warming through a shift from shrub tundra to deciduous forest or woodland.
Early-Holocene vegetation was structurally, and hence functionally, novel compared with today's dominant vegetation types. “Modern" boreal forest developed in the mid-Holocene (10000–6000 cal yr BP), when evergreen conifers expanded in much of the region. The shift from tundra to deciduous forest could have happened rapidly and in situ as the result of individual (phenotypic) and/ or population-scale responses to climate warming. Because the structural and functional properties of deciduous forest differ from those of evergreen coniferous forest and tundra, deciduous boreal forest should be included in the range of future scenarios used to assess the probable feedbacks of vegetation to the climatic system that result from global warming at northern high latitudes.
beringia, boreal forest, climate change, holocene, novel biomes, plant functional types
0012-9658
1696-1703
Edwards, Mary E.
4b6a3389-f3a4-4933-b8fd-acdfef72200e
Brubaker, Linda B.
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Lozhkin, Anatoly V.
b65a539b-c522-42e1-8783-0443a1a0ef3f
Anderson, Patricia M.
f8889c66-d89d-4614-bf36-8259a4abb3b8
Edwards, Mary E.
4b6a3389-f3a4-4933-b8fd-acdfef72200e
Brubaker, Linda B.
29d77a8c-8b7f-4cdd-99cd-236c86ce870d
Lozhkin, Anatoly V.
b65a539b-c522-42e1-8783-0443a1a0ef3f
Anderson, Patricia M.
f8889c66-d89d-4614-bf36-8259a4abb3b8

Edwards, Mary E., Brubaker, Linda B., Lozhkin, Anatoly V. and Anderson, Patricia M. (2005) Structurally novel biomes: a response to past warming in Beringia. Ecology, 86 (7), 1696-1703. (doi:10.1890/03-0787).

Record type: Article

Abstract

At northern high latitudes, biosphere responses to and interactions with climate warming are expected to be significant during the 21st century. Most predictions of climate–biosphere interactions rely on experiments and observations in contemporary landscapes, e.g., modern distributions of vegetation types and their structural features are used to delimit potential biosphere–atmosphere feedbacks.
Paleorecords look beyond the present to examine vegetation configurations under climatic regimes that approximate future scenarios. To enhance the knowledge of arctic and subarctic ecosystems under varying climatic conditions, we analyzed pollen and macrofossil data from Beringia (northeast Siberia, Alaska, and northwest Canada; 130° E to 130° W) over the past 21000 years, with a focus on structural and functional features of the vegetation. During the early Holocene (13000–10000 cal yr BP), shrub tundra ecosystems responded to climate warming through a shift from shrub tundra to deciduous forest or woodland.
Early-Holocene vegetation was structurally, and hence functionally, novel compared with today's dominant vegetation types. “Modern" boreal forest developed in the mid-Holocene (10000–6000 cal yr BP), when evergreen conifers expanded in much of the region. The shift from tundra to deciduous forest could have happened rapidly and in situ as the result of individual (phenotypic) and/ or population-scale responses to climate warming. Because the structural and functional properties of deciduous forest differ from those of evergreen coniferous forest and tundra, deciduous boreal forest should be included in the range of future scenarios used to assess the probable feedbacks of vegetation to the climatic system that result from global warming at northern high latitudes.

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Submitted date: 24 November 2003
Published date: July 2005
Additional Information: Fossil-based information on plant size informs us about past climate-driven changes in tundra vegetation structure. We link these to changes in phenotypic plasticity. This potentially fast mode of structural adjustment to environmental forcing is not dispersal-limited; it should be considered as a possible response of arctic vegetation to future warming.
Keywords: beringia, boreal forest, climate change, holocene, novel biomes, plant functional types

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 17421
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/17421
ISSN: 0012-9658
PURE UUID: df6f5bea-136d-4dae-ab51-44130fa4de3a
ORCID for Mary E. Edwards: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3490-6682

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 16 Sep 2005
Last modified: 20 Jul 2019 01:03

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