Article

Advancing plant phenology and reduced herbivore production in a terrestrial system associated with sea ice decline

  • Nature Communications 4, Article number: 2514 (2013)
  • doi:10.1038/ncomms3514
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Abstract

The contribution of declining Arctic sea ice to warming in the region through Arctic amplification suggests that sea ice decline has the potential to influence ecological dynamics in terrestrial Arctic systems. Empirical evidence for such effects is limited, however, particularly at the local population and community levels. Here we identify an Arctic sea ice signal in the annual timing of vegetation emergence at an inland tundra system in West Greenland. According to the time series analyses presented here, an ongoing advance in plant phenology at this site is attributable to the accelerating decline in Arctic sea ice, and contributes to declining large herbivore reproductive performance via trophic mismatch. Arctic-wide sea ice metrics consistently outperform other regional and local abiotic variables in models characterizing these dynamics, implicating large-scale Arctic sea ice decline as a potentially important, albeit indirect, contributor to local-scale ecological dynamics on land.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by a U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) doctoral dissertation fellowship to J.T.K., and by grants from N.S.F. and the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration to E.P.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. The Polar Center and Department of Biology, Penn State University, 208 Mueller Lab, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

    • Jeffrey T. Kerby
    •  & Eric Post

Authors

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Contributions

J.T.K. and E.P. conceived the research, collected the data and co-wrote the manuscript. J.T.K. conducted the statistical analyses and prepared the figures.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jeffrey T. Kerby.

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