Three decades of environmental change studies at alpine Finse, Norway: climate trends and responses across ecological scales
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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The International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) was established to understand how environmental change impacts Arctic and alpine ecosystems. The success of the ITEX-network has allowed for several important across-site syntheses, and for some ITEX-sites enough data have now been collected to perform within site syntheses on the effects of environmental change across ecological scales. In this study, we analyze climate data and synthesize three decades of research on the ecological effects of environmental change at the ITEX-site at Finse, southern Norway. We found a modest warming rate of +0.36 °C per decade and minor effects on growing season length. Maximum winter snow depth was highest in winters with a positive North Atlantic Oscillation. Our synthesis included 80 ecological studies from Finse, biased towards primary producers with few studies on ecological processes. Species distributions depended on microtopography and microclimate. Experimental warming had contrasting effects on abundance and traits of individual species and only modest effects at the community-level above and below ground. In contrast, nutrient addition experiments caused strong responses in primary producer and arthropod communities. This within-site synthesis enabled us to conclude how different environmental changes (experimental and ambient warming, nutrient addition, and environmental gradients) impact across ecological scales, which is challenging to achieve with across-site approaches.