Long- and short-term effects of reindeer grazing on tundra wetland vegetation

Heidi Kitti, Bruce C. Forbes, Jari Oksanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We studied long-term (50 years) and short-term (4 years) effects of summer grazing of reindeer on subarctic tundra wetland vegetation. The long-term effects of summer grazing were studied by comparing vegetation on Finnish and Norwegian sides of the fence line separating reindeer grazing regimes. The Finnish side was intensively grazed and trampled throughout the year, whereas the Norwegian side was grazed in winter. Experimental fences were erected to examine short-term effects of grazing exclusion. Both in the long- and short-term, summer grazing decreased the height of Salix lapponum whereas the short-term effects on willow cover were less clear than the long-term effects. In contrast, Carex spp. benefited from grazing. Long-term grazing had little effect on total bryophyte cover. Grazing had negligible effects on the nutrient content of leaves of S. lapponum and Eriophorum angustifolium. We conclude that tundra wetlands can withstand moderately high grazing pressure sustained over several decades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalPolar Biology
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Eriophorum angustifolium
  • Fennoscandia
  • Herbivory
  • Rangifer tarandus
  • Salix lapponum
  • Subarctic

Field of science

  • Geosciences

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