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NCoE Tundra - How to preserve the tundra in a warming climate?

The aim of NCoE Tundra is to find methods to preserve arctic-alpine biota in a warmer climate. The idea is to use herbivorous mammals to control the expansion of woody vegetation.

The preservation of arctic-alpine biota in northern Europe is a complex and long-term project. Recent research shows that shrub encroachment and tree invasion on the tundra have been much more rapid than previously thought. These vegetation changes increase the amount of solar radiation absorbed and converted to heat. Increasing density of trees and shrubs also increase the atmospheric content of water vapor (functions as a greenhouse gas). These effects are ominous for the biota and cultures dependent on the tundra, and for the global climate overall.

 

Most of Nordic arctic-alpine habitats lie in Norway, whereas the dry inland habitats, suitable for wintering reindeer, lie primarily in Finland and Sweden. The issues of this project are very much co-Nordic, and it is therefore necessary to have a common Nordic approach to find solutions.

 

The Nordic Centre of Excellence (NCoE) “How to preserve the tundra in a warming climate?” looks at these issues with an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing connections between ecology, climatology and socio-economic studies.

 

A warmer climate threatens to change most of the current tundra to forest or dense scrubland, unsuitable for arctic-alpine plants. Vegetation changes may also speed up global warming.

 

The aim of this NCoE is to find methods to preserve arctic-alpine biota in a warmer climate. The idea is to use herbivorous mammals to control the expansion of woody vegetation. Recent studies show that forest expansion can be prevented by the combination of relatively sparse reindeer stocks and natural populations of arvicoline rodents.

 

The Centre will study the dynamics of the natural food chains involving small herbivorous mammals to identify habitats where the impact of small mammals suffices to control the forest expansion.

 

They will also study the impacts of reindeer on the vegetation and population dynamics of those arctic-alpine plants that are most likely to become threatened in a warmer climate.

What are the conditions for maintaining the economic and cultural viability of reindeer herding and direct land use in order to contribute to the preservation of open landscapes suitable for arctic-alpine biota?

Result summary

Across the borders of three Nordic countries, NCoE TUNDRA studies  the expected processes and consequences of forest and shrub expansion into the open Fennoscandian tundra. 

 

Special emphasis lays on i) the potential of herbivorous animals to stop or to delay this expansion, and ii) whether and how reindeer herding practices could be changed so that the potential of reindeer to prevent encroachment of open tundra could be maximized. 

 

The work packages in NCoE TUNDRA are gradually wrapping up their results and delivering these to the synthesis building work (WP 8). The final year (2011-2015) of NCoE TUNDRA will concentrate on formulating the synthesis of the whole project including seven WPs from ecology to social sciences.

Video

 

More information

 

Visit the NCoE Tundra webpage

See a list of NCoE Tundra publications


Participating organisations

 


Project leaders

 

NCoE-leader

Jukka Käyhkö, Professor

University of Turku, Finland

jukka.kayhko@utu.fi

+358 23 33 5593

 

Administrative manager

Hans Våg, Controller

University of Turku, Finland
hans.vag@utu.fi

+358 23 33 5659

 

Lead scientist

Lauri Oksanen, Professor

University of Turku, Finland

UiT Norges arktiske universitet, Norway

lauoks@utu.fi

+358 23 33 5557

 

Project coordinator

Mika Orjala

University of Turku, Finland

mimaor@utu.fi

+358 23 33 5588

 

WP-ledere

 

  • Erkki Korpimäki (WP1), University of Turku, Finland
  • Tarja Oksanen (WP1), University of Turku, Finland
  • Johan Olofsson (WP2), Umeå University, Sweden
  • Lauri Oksanen (WP 3), University of Turku, Finland og UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • Lars Ericsson (WP3), Umeå University, Sweden
  • Pekka Niemelä (WP 4), University of Turku, Finland
  • Annamari Markkola (WP 4), University of Oulu, Finland
  • Jane U. Jepsen (WP 4), Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, Norway
  • Bernt Johansen (WP 5), NORUT – Northern Research Institute, Norway
  • Bruce C. Forbes (WP 6), University of Lapland, Finland
  • Tove Aagnes Utsi (WP 6), UiT The Arctic University of Norway
  • Jouni Pulliainen (WP7), Finnish Meteorological Institution, Finland

 

Seniorforskere

 

  • Sami Aikio (WP 4), University of Oulu, Finland
  • Rolf Anker Ims (WP 4), UiT the Arctic University of Norway
  • Annu Ruotsalainen (WP 4), University of Oulu, Finland
  • Juha Tuomi (WP 4), University of Oulu, Finland
  • Risto Virtanen (WP 4), University of Oulu, Finland
 

Project participants

 

See a list of all NCoE Tundra project participants