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Relationships between vegetation patterns and periglacial landforms in north-western Svalbard



We studied the small-scale vegetation pattern\ud in the high Arctic at Ny A ˚ lesund to assess if the plant\ud distribution was related to periglacial landforms. The\ud whole area has been deglaciated for millennia but only\ud a modest part of the area was covered by mature\ud vegetation. The plant cover varied considerably in\ud relation to ground patterning originated by periglacial\ud processes, especially frost heave, frost creep, gelifluction\ud and ice segregation, giving rise to a mosaic of\ud microhabitats sharply differing from each other as\ud regards physical properties and microclimate. The\ud distributional patterns of vascular plants, lichens and\ud bryophytes were primarily affected by complex\ud responses to substrate texture, soil moisture content\ud and substrate disturbance. Since global warming will\ud probably affect both periglacial processes and plant\ud responses to altered habitat conditions, we concluded\ud that long-term monitoring of relationships between\ud landforms and vegetation represents a suitable tool for\ud assessing the impact of global change on arctic\ud region

Topics: vegetation, patterned ground, svalbard
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s00300-004-0622-4
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