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https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-351
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-2020-351
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  23 Oct 2020

23 Oct 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Arctic aquatic graminoid tundra responses to nutrient availability

Christian G. Andresen1,2 and Vanessa L. Lougheed2 Christian G. Andresen and Vanessa L. Lougheed
  • 1Geography Department, University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, WI, USA
  • 2Biological Sciences Department, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso TX, USA

Abstract. Unraveling the environmental controls influencing Arctic tundra productivity is paramount for advancing our predictive understanding of the causes and consequences of warming in tundra ecosystems and associated land-atmosphere feedbacks. This study focuses on aquatic emergent tundra plants, which dominate productivity and methane fluxes in the Arctic coastal plain of Alaska. In particular, we assessed how environmental nutrient availability influences production of biomass and greenness in the dominant aquatic tundra species: Carex aquatilis and Arctophila fulva. We sampled a total of 17 sites distributed across the Barrow Peninsula and Atqasuk, Alaska following a nutrient gradient that ranged from sites with thermokarst slumping or urban runoff to sites with relatively low nutrient inputs. Employing a multivariate analysis, we explained the relationship of soil and water nutrients to plant leaf macro- and micro-nutrients. Specifically, we identified soil phosphorus as the main limiting nutrient factor given that it was the principal driver of biomass and Normalize Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in both species. Plot-level spectral NDVI was a good predictor of leaf P content for both species. We found long-term increases in N, P and Ca in C. aquatilis based on historical leaf nutrient data from 1970s of our study area. This study highlights the importance of nutrient pools and mobilization between terrestrial-aquatic systems and their potential influence on productivity, carbon and energy balance. In addition, aquatic plant NDVI spectral responses to nutrients can serve as landscape hot-spot and hot-moment indicator of landscape biogeochemical heterogeneity associated with permafrost degradation, nutrient leaching and availability.

Christian G. Andresen and Vanessa L. Lougheed

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Christian G. Andresen and Vanessa L. Lougheed

Christian G. Andresen and Vanessa L. Lougheed

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Short summary
Aquatic tundra plants dominate productivity and methane fluxes in the Arctic coastal plain. We assessed how environmental nutrient availability influences production of biomass and greenness of aquatic tundra. Employing a multivariate analysis, we explained the relationship of soil and water nutrients to plant leaf nutrients. This study highlights the importance of nutrient pools and mobilization between terrestrial-aquatic systems and their influence on regional carbon and energy feedbacks.
Aquatic tundra plants dominate productivity and methane fluxes in the Arctic coastal plain. We...
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