Lead Institution: University of Lapland
Work Package 2 Leader: Sari Stark.
Work Package 2 (WP2) will construct future scenarios for key elements of Arctic biodiversity using reindeer – vegetation interactions to understand how climate drivers and management regimes modify Arctic societies (SES) with impacts for the livelihoods of local and indigenous people. Building on the current understanding on the impacts of herbivory on tundra ecosystems. WP2 will then integrate socio-political processes and food-web implications to these scenarios.
Changes in the cryosphere in the form of more ground icing and hard snow is bad news for tundra herbivores and the predators that depend on them, leading to food web structure changes.
WP2 will estimate the role of these direct and indirect impacts of major drivers of change on Arctic biodiversity primarily using existing datasets collected on the ground and thus complementing the larger scale trends assessed in Work Package 1.
Description of work
WP2 fills in substantial knowledge gaps regarding the role of grazing by reindeer and other herbivores in biodiversity trends over decades across the Arctic and comprises of the following primary tasks:
- Synthesize evidence of the effect of herbivores on species richness at the circumpolar level.
- Upscale this evidence to a regional level within the Eurasian semi- domesticated reindeer range using vast sets of vegetation inventories with decadal timescales from Arctic countries where these are available. These analyses will reveal how climatic variables (e.g. rainfall, snow conditions) and the timing and intensity of reindeer grazing interact to determine ongoing vegetation trends at different habitats.
- Connect ecological frameworks with cultural activities involving management practices, often unique to the district in question and dependent on other land-uses and complex socio-political processes.
- Investigate the ways by which reindeer and their management interacts with climate to impact higher trophic levels, in particular generalist predators, which in turn exert a major impact on arctic biodiversity but also feedback on the reindeer together with the economic yield of reindeer herding.