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Ecology: Shrubs survive warming

J. Ecol. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2745.2010.01690.x (2010)

Unlike most tundra plant species, Arctic evergreen shrubs seem to be resilient to climate change. James Hudson and Greg Henry at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver were surprised to find that increases of 1–1.3 °C did not affect the height or abundance of shrub species, including the Arctic white heather Cassiope tetragona, during a 15-year Arctic study.

But warming did increase the abundance of non-vascular plants such as mosses by 6.3%, and decreased lichen cover by 3.5%. The researchers followed 36 plots in northern Canada, half of which were warmed by open-top fibreglass chambers placed over them. The other half were left as controls.

The authors suggest that the shrubs' slow growth rate and long life contribute to their resilience.

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Ecology: Shrubs survive warming. Nature 466, 534 (2010).

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