Patterned-ground plant communities along a bioclimate gradient in the High Arctic, Canada

Vonlanthen, Corinne M.; Walker, Donald A.; Raynolds, Martha K.; Kade, Anja; Kuss, Hans Patrick; Daniels, Fred J.A.; Matveyeva, Nadezhda V. (2008). Patterned-ground plant communities along a bioclimate gradient in the High Arctic, Canada. Phytocoenologia, 38(1-2), pp. 23-63. Berlin: Bornträger 10.1127/0340-269X/2008/0039-0023

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Non-sorted circles, non-sorted polygons, and earth hummocks are common ground-surface features ill arctic regions. The), are caused by a variety of physical processes that Occur in permafrost regions including contraction cracking and frost heave. Here we describe the vegetation of patterned-ground forms on zonal sites at three location!: along an N-S transect through the High Arctic of Canada. We made 75 releves on patterned-ground features (circles, polygons, earth hummocks) and adjacent tundra (Interpolygon, intercircle, interhummock areas) and identified and classified the vegetation according to the Braun-Blanquet Method. Environmental factors were correlated with the vegetation data using a nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination (NMDS). We identified eleven commnunities: (1) Puccinellia angustata-Papaver radicalum community in xeromesic non-sorted polygons of subzone A of the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map; (2) Saxifraga-Parmelia omphalodes ssp. glacialis community in hydromesic interpolygon areas of subzone A; (3) Hypogymnia subobscura-Lecanora epibryon community In xeromesic non-sorted polygons of subzone B; (4) Orthotrichum speciosum-Salix arctica community In xeromesic interpolygon areas of subzone B; (5) Cochlearia groenlandica-Luzula nivalis community in hydromesic earth Mocks Of subzone B; (6) Salix arctica-Eriophorum angustifolium ssp. triste community in hygric earth hummocks of subzone 13; (7) Puccinellia angustata-Potentilla vahliana community in xeromesic non-sorted circles and bare patches of subzone Q (8) Dryas integrifolia-Carex rupestris community in xeromesic intercircle areas and vegetated patches of subzone C; (9) Braya glabella ssp. purpurascens-Dryas integrifolia community In hydromesic non-sorted circles of subzone Q (10) Dryas integrifolia-Carex aquatilis community in hydromesic intercircle areas of subzone C; and (11) Eriophorum angustifolium ssp. triste-Carex aquatilis community ill hygric intercircle areas of subzone C. The NMDS ordination displayed the vegetation types with respect to complex environmental gradients. The first axis of the ordination corresponds to a complex soil moisture gradient and the second axis corresponds to a complex geology/elevation/climate gradient. The tundra plots have a greater moss and graminoid cover than the adjacent frost-heave communities. In general, frost-heave features have greater thaw depths, more bare ground, thinner organic horizons, and lower soil moisture than the surrounding tundra. The morphology of the investigated patterned ground forms changes along the climatic gradient, with non-sorted pollygons dominating in the northernmost sites and non-sorted circles dominating, in the southern sites.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Plant Ecology

UniBE Contributor:

Kuss, Patrick


500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)






Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:08

Last Modified:

24 Jul 2014 14:45

Publisher DOI:


Web of Science ID:


URI: (FactScience: 172190)

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