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Herbivory and plant community structure in a subarctic altitudinal gradient
Umeå University. (teknisk-naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för ekologisk botanik)
1993 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The object of this thesis was to study plant community structure, especially in relation to vertebrate herbivory, in an altitudinal gradient in the Fennoscandian mountain chain.

A sowing experiment in a high alpine Ranunculus glacialis population showed that seeds germinated better in cleared microsites than under established individuals. This is contrasted with a hypothesis that predicts positive plant-plant interactions in high alpine environments. It was concluded that plant-plant interactions in die studied population varied from neutral to negative, whereas no indications for positive interactions were found.

An exclosure experiment in a snow-bed showed that a lemming population consumed 33 % of the available graminoids and 66 % of the mosses from August to June during a population peak. The results shows that grazing needs to be considered as a structuring factor in snow-bed vegetation.

The vegetation in exclosures in another snow-bed changed from a graminoid-dominated to a herb-dominated plant community during a long-term (six years) experiment No changes of the same magnitude were seen in a tall herb meadow on a lower altitude. Survival of transplanted adult shoots from the tall herb meadow was equally high in the snow-bed as on the meadow, and germination was also high on bare ground in the snow-bed. Grazing seemed to be a more important structuring factor in the snow-bed than in the more productive tall herb meadow.

Raising the grazing pressure during one growing season by introducing microtine rodents into enclosures did not cause any large short-term effects on plant community structure in a tall hob meadow or in a snow-bed. Marked shoots showed that some preferred plant species had a high shoot mortality, but biomass for pooled categories of plants was not significantly affected. It was predicted that the tall herb meadow would be more grazing sensitive than die snow-bed, but productivity on the meadow seemed to be sufficiently high for the plants to compensate for the grazing during the growing season.

A greenhouse experiment showed that voles, when grazing freely, have the potential to deplete productive field layer vegetation contrary to predictions from plant defence theories. A nitrogen-based defence did not prevent heavy shoot mortality for toxic tall herbs.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Univ. , 1993. , 37 p.
Keyword [en]
arctic and alpine vegetation, competition, exclosures, lemmings, plant defences, plant-plant interactions, Ranunculus glacialis, snow-bed, structuring factors, tall herb meadow, vertebrate grazing, voles
National Category
Ecology Botany
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-102558ISBN: 91-7174-747-8OAI: diva2:808718
Public defence
1993-04-29, Naturvetarhuset, Hörsal C, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00

Diss. (sammanfattning) Umeå : Umeå universitet, 1993, härtill 5 uppsatser.

Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-04-28 Last updated: 2015-11-11Bibliographically approved

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