Knowledge of how arctic plant communities will respond to change has been largely derived from plot level experimental manipulation, not from trends of decade time scale environmental observations. This study documents plant community change in 330 marked plots at 33 sites established during the International Biological Program near Barrow, Alaska in 1972. Plots were resampled in 1999, 2008 and 2010 for species cover and presence. Cluster analysis identified nine plant communities in 1972. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMS) indicates that plant communities have changed in different ways over time, and that wet communities have changed more than dry communities. The relative cover of lichens increased over time, while the response of other plant functional groups varied. Species richness and diversity also increased over time. The most dramatic changes in the cover of bryophytes, graminoids and bare ground coincided with a lemming high in 2008.


arctic tundra, climate change, plant community change, plant diversity, herbivory, ecosystem change


Original Citation: Villarreal, S., Robert D. Hollister, D.R. Johnson, M.J. Lara, P.J. Webber, and C.E. Tweedie. “Tundra Vegetation Change near Barrow, Alaska (1972-2010).” Environmental Research Letters 7, no. 1 (2012): 1-10. http:// iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/1/015508.