The Role of Sea Ice for Vascular Plant Dispersal in the Arctic

Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Inger Greve Alsos, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway
Plant species adapted to arctic environments are expected to go extinct at their southern margins due to climate warming whereas they may find suitable habitats on arctic islands if they are able to disperse there. Analyses of species distribution and phylogenetic data indicate both that the frequency of dispersal events is higher in the arctic than in other regions, and that the dispersal routes often follow the routes of sea surface currents. Thus, it has been hypothesised that sea ice has played a central role in Holocene colonisation of arctic islands. Here we compile data on the first Holocene occurrence of species in East Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Svalbard. We then combine these records with interpretations of dispersal routes inferred from genetic data and data on geographical distributions, reconstructions of Holocene sea ice extent, and records of driftwood to evaluate the potential role sea ice has played in past colonisation events.