A hierarchic approach to examining panArctic vegetation with a focus on the linkages between remote sensing and plot-based studies.

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Donald A Walker1, Fred J.A. Daniëls2, Inger Greve Alsos3, Uma Suren Bhatt1, Amy Lynn Breen4, Marcel Buchhorn1, Helga Bültmann2, Mary E Edwards5, Dorothee Ehrich6, Howard E Epstein7, William A Gould8, Rolf A. Ims6, Hans Meltofte9, David F. Murray10, Martha K Raynolds1 and Stephen S. Talbot11, (1)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (2)Institute of Biology and Biotechnology of Plants, Münster University,, Münster, Germany, (3)University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway, (4)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Scenarios Network for Alaska & Arctic Planning, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (5)University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom, (6)Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Norway, (7)University of Virginia Main Campus, Environmental Sciences, Charlottesville, VA, United States, (8)USDA Forest Service, San Juan, PR, United States, (9)Aarhus University, Department of Bioscience, Aarhus, Denmark, (10)University of Alaska, Museum of the North, Fairbanks, United States, (11)U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK, United States
A circumpolar view of Arctic vegetation developed with the advent of satellite-derived remote-sensing products. Interpretations of what the revealed patterns mean are dependent on a foundation of in-situ plot-based observations. Despite the importance of ground-based observations, only a few areas have been intensively sampled and mapped, mainly in the vicinity of permanent Arctic observatories. Much of the information is project specific and is based on sampling protocols that are difficult to compare across sites. Here, we demonstrate a more consistent multi-level hierarchic approach for vegetation description and analysis at the Toolik Lake Field Station, Alaska. We advocate for a well-coordinated, interdisciplinary network of vegetation observation stations. Key recommendations include: (1) Complete local floras for many more areas in than presently exist. Species names should be standardized using the Pan-Arctic Flora. (2) Permanently marked and replicated vegetation monitoring plots in the full range of habitats at each station. Methods of establishing and monitoring the plots should include consistent internationally accepted standards for vegetation data collection, vegetation classification, plot markings, and standardized approaches to describe the local environment, including photo points showing the vegetation and soils up close and in landscape view. (3) Standardized approaches for collecting in-situ time-series of spectral data. Standardized methods for collecting and analyzing phytomass data are especially needed. (4) Interdisciplinary studies. Vegetation observations should be conducted in concert with observations of soils, permafrost, animals and ecosystem processes at the same plots. (5) Periodic (perhaps every 5-10 years) ground-based surveys. These should include surveys of species composition, canopy structure, biomass, leaf-area index, and NDVI, along with high-resolution satellite-based remote-sensing products at the same time.