Global change and Arctic ecosystems: conclusions and predictions from experiments with terrestrial invertebrates on Spitsbergen

Extensive studies on invertebrates from Ny-Ålesund, Spitsbergen, Svalbard and more limited data on aphids from Abisko, Sweden, produced the following main conclusions: (1) The population response to raised summer temperatures differed between the above and the below ground species, both in terms of speed and magnitude. (2) Similar animal communities responded differently to similar temperature manipulations on sites with different vegetation cover and composition. (3) For soil animals the between-year and between-site variations in population densities, were greater than the differences produced by the temperature manipulation experiments at any one site in any year. (4) Infrequent extreme climatic events strongly influence long-term trends in population density and community composition. (5) The population response of invertebrates to climate warming is greatest and most rapid at the coldest sites. (6) The spatial distribution of the above ground insect herbivores on their host plant is temperature limited. (7) The numerical abundance of flying predators/parasitoids of the above-ground herbivores is low. (8) The spatial distribution of some predators may be thermally restricted and less extensive than that of their prey. (9) Habitat temperature is the driving variable determining the flight activity patterns of insects. (10) Increased summer temperatures may alter or disrupt the seasonal patterns of insect emergence, particularly in species where the life cycle is cued into the seasonal rhythm. (11) The common species of arctic soil mites and Collembola are well adapted to survive enhanced summer temperatures, providing that moisture is not limited. (12) Water availability during the summer growing period is probably of greater significance than temperature in determining the survival and success of many arctic soil invertebrate groups. (13) Arctic soil microarthropod species are well adapted to survive and operate at subzero and low positive summer temperatures. (14) Freeze-thaw events represent critical points in the life history of the microarthropods. (15) Supercooling points are sometimes poor indicators of the capacity of arctic soil microarthopods to survive low temperatures. From these findings predictions are made as to how high arctic communities will respond to predicted changes in climate.


Publication status:
Authors: Hodkinson, Ian D., Webb, N.R., Bale, J.S., Block, W., Coulson, S.J., Strathdee, A.T.

On this site: William Block
1 January, 1998
Arctic and Alpine Research / 30