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      Long-term monitoring at multiple trophic levels suggests heterogeneity in responses to climate change in the Canadian Arctic tundra

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          Abstract

          Arctic wildlife is often presented as being highly at risk in the face of current climate warming. We use the long-term (up to 24 years) monitoring records available on Bylot Island in the Canadian Arctic to examine temporal trends in population attributes of several terrestrial vertebrates and in primary production. Despite a warming trend (e.g. cumulative annual thawing degree-days increased by 37% and snow-melt date advanced by 4-7 days over a 23-year period), we found little evidence for changes in the phenology, abundance or productivity of several vertebrate species (snow goose, foxes, lemmings, avian predators and one passerine). Only primary production showed a response to warming (annual above-ground biomass of wetland graminoids increased by 123% during this period). We nonetheless found evidence for potential mismatches between herbivores and their food plants in response to warming as snow geese adjusted their laying date by only 3.8 days on average for a change in snow-melt of 10 days, half of the corresponding adjustment shown by the timing of plant growth (7.1 days). We discuss several reasons (duration of time series, large annual variability, amplitude of observed climate change, nonlinear dynamic or constraints imposed by various rate of warming with latitude in migrants) to explain the lack of response by herbivores and predators to climate warming at our study site. We also show how length and intensity of monitoring could affect our ability to detect temporal trends and provide recommendations for future monitoring.

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          Ecological dynamics across the Arctic associated with recent climate change.

          At the close of the Fourth International Polar Year, we take stock of the ecological consequences of recent climate change in the Arctic, focusing on effects at population, community, and ecosystem scales. Despite the buffering effect of landscape heterogeneity, Arctic ecosystems and the trophic relationships that structure them have been severely perturbed. These rapid changes may be a bellwether of changes to come at lower latitudes and have the potential to affect ecosystem services related to natural resources, food production, climate regulation, and cultural integrity. We highlight areas of ecological research that deserve priority as the Arctic continues to warm.
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            The evidence for shrub expansion in Northern Alaska and the Pan-Arctic

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              Ecological Thresholds: The Key to Successful Environmental Management or an Important Concept with No Practical Application?

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
                The Royal Society
                0962-8436
                1471-2970
                July 08 2013
                July 08 2013
                : 368
                : 1624
                : 20120482
                Article
                10.1098/rstb.2012.0482
                3720055
                23836788
                42e30e76-9488-45af-9c15-563eb3f22897
                © 2013
                History

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