Plant and Vegetation Dynamics on Disko Island, West Greenland: Snapshots Separated by Over 40 Years

Terry V. Callaghan, Torben Christensen, Elin J. Jantze

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28 Citations (SciVal)


We report on a revisit in 2009 to sites where vegetation was recorded in 1967 and 1970 on Disko Island, West Greenland. Re-sampling of the same clones of the grass Phleum alpinum after 39 years showed complete stability in biometrics but dramatic earlier onset of various phenological stages that were not related to changes in population density. In a fell-field community, there was a net species loss, but in a herb-slope community, species losses balanced those that were gained. The type of species establishing and increasing in frequency and/or cover abundance at the fell-field site, particularly prostrate dwarf shrubs, indicates a possible start of a shift towards a heath, rather than a fell-field community. At the herb-slope site, those species that established or increased markedly in frequency and/or cover abundance indicate a change to drier conditions. This is confirmed both by the decrease in abundance of Alchemilla glomerulans and Epilobium hornemanii, and the drying of a nearby pond. The causes of these changes are unknown, although mean annual temperature has risen since 1984.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-637
JournalAmbio: a Journal of Human Environment
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Physical Geography


  • Vegetation change
  • Arctic
  • West Greenland
  • Phenology
  • Biometrics


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