At the Arctic LTER, terrestrial research includes experimental and descriptive studies of the effects of climate, biota, geology and geomorphology, and fluxes of water and nutrients on tundra ecosystems.
The Arctic LTER terrestrial research project includes experimental and descriptive studies of the effects of climate, biota, geology and geomorphology, and fluxes of water and nutrients on tundra ecosystems.
Over the past 20 plus years we have developed a suite of experiments in which contrasting tundras, dominated by different plant functional types and located on different geologic surfaces, are subjected to identical manipulations of nutrient inputs (with N and P fertilizers), air temperature (plastic greenhouses), light (shading), and other treatments such as herbivore exclusion. Comparisons among treatments within a tundra type lead to insights about the interactions of climate and nutrient fluxes in regulating their composition and biogeochemistry. Comparisons among sites teach us how geology and geomorphology affect ecosystem structure and function. Comparisons of plant functional types in response to this common suite of manipulations teach us how differences in species function affect overall ecosystem characteristics. Finally, comparisons of decomposition and other soil processes among sites and experiments teach us how vegetation composition interacts with soils and how overall C and N cycles are regulated.