Large herbivores as stabilizing ecosystem engineers in thawing terrestrial Arctic environments


Contact
torben.windirsch [ at ] awi.de

Abstract

With an increasingly warm Arctic, new challenges arise as Arctic permafrost ground starts to thaw further. Thaw destabilizes the ground and makes soil-stored organic carbon available for microbial decomposition. To reduce thaw intensity, we examined the impact of large herbivorous animals on thaw depth in the seasonal active layer and carbon storage in both the active layer and the underlying permafrost in eastern Siberia. In the Pleistocene Park (Cherskiy, Siberia, 68.512694° N, 161.508736° E), a landscape-scale lifesize long-term experiment on recreating a large-herbivore-driven ecosystem in a 50-ha fenced area is being conducted since more than 20 years. There, we sampled locations with different grazing intensity in drained thermokarst lake basins and Yedoma uplands and analysed these samples for organic carbon content and degree of decomposition. We distinguished between “old” undecomposed organic material and freshly introduced organic material associated with the animal grazing itself. Because of reduced snow depth in winter due to animal trampling, we hypothesize that heavily grazed areas are affected by a shallower thaw depth and therefore result in more carbon-rich permafrost as well as higher carbon amounts in the active layer. We further hypothesize that the expansion of free roaming large Arctic mammals might be a possibility to stabilize permafrost ground conditions in thaw-affected Arctic steppe and tundra regions.



Item Type
Conference (Poster)
Authors
Divisions
Primary Division
Programs
Primary Topic
Peer revision
Not peer-reviewed
Publication Status
Published
Event Details
International Symposium 'Focus Siberian Permafrost – Terrestrial Cryosphere and Climate Change', 24 Mar 2021 - 25 Mar 2021.
Eprint ID
53925
Cite as
Windirsch, T. , Grosse, G. , Habeck, J. O. , Ulrich, M. and Strauss, J. (2021): Large herbivores as stabilizing ecosystem engineers in thawing terrestrial Arctic environments , International Symposium 'Focus Siberian Permafrost – Terrestrial Cryosphere and Climate Change', 24 March 2021 - 25 March 2021 .


Share

Geographical region

Research Platforms

Campaigns
Arctic Land Expeditions > RU-Land_2019_Cherskiy


Actions
Edit Item Edit Item