Thaw pond development and initial vegetation succession in experimental plots at a Siberian lowland tundra site

Bingxi Li, Monique M P D Heijmans, Daan Blok, Peng Wang, Sergey V Karsanaev, Trofim C. Maximov, Jacobus van Huissteden, Frank Berendse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)
142 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Permafrost degradation has the potential to change the Arctic tundra landscape. We observed rapid local thawing of ice-rich permafrost resulting in thaw pond formation, which was triggered by removal of the shrub cover in a field experiment. This study aimed to examine the rate of permafrost thaw and the initial vegetation succession after the permafrost collapse. Methods In the experiment, we measured changes in soil thaw depth, plant species cover and soil subsidence over nine years (2007–2015). Results After abrupt initial thaw, soil subsidence in the removal plots continued indicating further thawing of
permafrost albeit at a much slower pace: 1 cm y−1 over 2012–2015 vs. 5 cm y−1 over 2007–2012. Grass cover strongly increased after the initial shrub removal, but later declined with ponding of water in the subsiding removal plots. Sedges established and expanded in the wetter removal plots. Thereby, the removal plots have become increasingly similar to nearby ‘natural’ thaw
ponds. Conclusions The nine years of field observations in a unique shrub removal experiment at a Siberian tundra site document possible trajectories of small-scale permafrost collapse and the initial stage of vegetation recovery,
which is essential knowledge for assessing future tundra landscape changes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-162
JournalPlant and Soil
Volume420
Issue number1-2
Early online date2017 Aug 22
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Environmental Sciences
  • Ecology

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Thaw pond development and initial vegetation succession in experimental plots at a Siberian lowland tundra site'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this