Foliar Expression of Parent Lithologic Composition in the Sub-Arctic: Examples from Heath Ecosystems of Abisko, Sweden.

Monday, 15 December 2014
Eric Wayne Heim1, Nathan Tomczyk2, Kiley Remiszewski3, Julia G Bryce4, Serita D Frey5, Maria F Prado6 and Ruth K Varner4, (1)Northern Michigan University, Chelsea, MI, United States, (2)University of Maine, Orono, ME, United States, (3)University of New Hampshire Main Campus, Durham, NH, United States, (4)Univ New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States, (5)Univ of New Hampshire, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Durham, NH, United States, (6)Univ of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States
Climatic evolution and its effect on ecosystem stability through macronutrient acquisition is of particular interest in the fringe ecosystems of the Arctic and Sub-Arctic, regions predicted to face the most extreme temperature increases in Earth’s changing climate. Accordingly enhanced understanding of climate change impacts on nutrient mobilization in recently glaciated terrains will factor importantly into accurate predictive models for future ecosystem health. Lithologic variation can lead to differences in geomorphic processes and thus influence landscape evolution [1]. Heath ecosystems in the region are developed on thin soils which place them close to parent material bedrock. Given the abundance of thin soils mantling bedrock, we assessed how bedrock geochemical content links with foliar composition of key macronutrients. We focused our studies on four sites near Abisko, Sweden (68°21’N 19°02’E) in metamorphosed sedimentary bedrock. In our sites the average annual air temperature has crossed the 0o threshold and has been linked to many cryospheric and ecological impacts [2]. Sites were chosen at the same elevation (700 m absl) and shared similar vegetation coverage. Three dominant species across our sampling sites include Betula nana, Empetrum nigrum, and Salix lapponum. E. Nigrum had consistent concentrations of foliar magnesium (Mg) and phosphorus (P) across the bedrock compositional gradients. B. nana and S. lapponum had consistently higher foliar Mg and P concentrations than E. nigrum across the gradients. Across a soil calcium (Ca) gradient, dominant species had a weak correlation between soil Ca and foliar Ca contents, R2 = 0.106. Soil Mg and P gradients were similarly poorly correlated with foliar abundances, R2 = -0.0228, and R2= -0.034 respectively. Expansion of our work into other lithologies will contribute towards improved predictive biogeochemical models of macronutrient acquisition and ecological evolution across changing Arctic ecosystems.