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The project, Arctic and Alpine Stream Ecosystem Research (AASER), started within EU’s Climate & Environment Programme and now continues with national funding, primarily Norway, Italy and Austria. The objective is to study dynamics and processes in rivers systems in Arctic and Alpine regions. Emphasis is given to the relationships between benthic invertebrates and environmental variables, especially in glacier-fed systems and in relation to climate change scenarios. On Svalbard research is concentrated around Ny Ålesund, particularly Bayelva and Londonelva. In 2004 the focus will be on the use to stable isotopes to detect transfer processes within and between ecosystems.
On thin Ice
Biological nitrogen fixation by cyanobacteria is a key process for productivity in terrestrial Arctic ecosystems and the activity is dependent of size and diversity of cyanobacterial populations. Changes in biodiversity after pertubations of different types of habitats simulating climatic changes or other antropogenic effects will be studied by molecular methods and correlated to variations of nitrogen fixation activity.
The structure and role of the cyanobacterial communities that colonise bare soils and fix nitrogen in the arctic ecosystem will be studied. The planned activities will focus on the isolation, identification and characterisation of cyanobacteria from arctic habitats and on the changes of the cyanobacterial community along a transect from a retreating glacier front to a more stable habitat characterised by the presence of mature vegetation. For these purposes, a polyphasic approach encompassing microbiological, morphological and molecular techniques will be applied to environmental samples and isolated cultures. The obtained results will give new insights on the diversity and role of nitrogen fixing cyanobacteria in the arctic and, in more general terms, on ecosystem development under changing climatic conditions.
The aim of the project is to monitor forest health in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The impact on the forest ecosystems in the border areas is varying. In the areas close to the nickel smelter (in Nikel), the damage is serious, while the damage on the Norwegian areas are much less. Here the damage is mostly related to lack of lichen vegetation on birch stems. The moss vegetation in the bottom layer is also influenced. In some cases, when certain weather conditions fell together with high emissions of sulphur dioxide, visible damage has been developed on leaves of shrubs and trees, even on Norwegian territory. Even the emission normally does not cause visible damage on Norwegian territory; chemical influenced is traced over large Norwegian areas
The aim of the project Intensive monitoring of forest ecosystem in an air pollution gradient from Nikel and westwards, running in the period 1994-1998/99, has been to develop and perform environmental monitoring in the border areas between Norway and Russia. The project is a contribution to the joint Norwegian/Russian Environmental Co-operation. Russian scientists have established and performed analyses at four monitoring sites in Russia, while Norwegian scientists have done similar monitoring at adjacent Norwegian areas. The scientists have worked together in two workshops and in the field. The collaboration has been efficient carried out by extensive use of e-mail. An important result for of the project has been harmonised field methodology, which has been put into practice by means of common fieldwork. The impact on the forest ecosystems in the border areas is varying. In the areas close to the nickel smelter (in Nikel), the damage is serious, while the damage on the Norwegian areas are much less. Here the damage is mostly related to lack of lichen vegetation on birch stems. The moss vegetation in the bottom layer is also influenced. In some cases, when certain weather conditions fell together with high emissions of sulphur dioxide, visible damage has been developed on leaves of shrubs and trees, even on Norwegian territory. Even the emission normally does not cause visible damage on Norwegian territory; chemical influenced is traced over large Norwegian areas
In 1990, the Directorate for Nature Management (DN) established an area for integrated monitoring within Børgefjell National Park, Røyrvik, N Trøndelag. Studies of vegetation-environment relationships in the area was performed by NINA. The area includes both subalpine birch forest and low alpine heath. The new established vegetation investigation included all together 80 different species. This material was processed numerically by using multivariate methods. Indirect gradient analyses were performed using Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) and Local Nonmetric Multidimentional Scaling (LNMDS). Direct gradient analyses were performed by using rescaled hybrid Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA). Non-parametric correlation analyses, Kendall’s , were performed between environmental parameters and DCA axis values. The results of the numerical and statistical processing were used partly to provide a description of the vegetational structure in the material and partly to quantify how much each ecological parameters contributed to determination of vegetational structure. This work shows the species distribution along various complex gradients; moisture, nutrient conditions, light etc. The investigation is primarily designed to study vegetation dynamics along these gradients and whether changes in the number of species can be related to changes in physical, biotic and, not least, chemical parameters. Variance analysis was performed to assess to what extent the sample plots tends move in a determined direction from 1990 to 1995. The variation between the years were not significant along the primary complex gradients, but there were a significant displacement of species along the following gradients. The most important species were: Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Melampyrum sylvaticum and Hylocomium splendens), which showed an increase and some cryptogams like Brachythecium reflexum, B. salebrosum and Cladonia ecmocyna which declined.
In 1993, the Directorate for Nature Management (DN) established a new area for the monitoring of terrestrial ecosystems in Dividalen National Park in Troms County. This report presents the reanalysis of vegetation and soil from this terrestrial monitoring area. The area in Dividalen is located in the northern boreal birch forest, in a relatively continental section where the dominant type of vegetation is bilberry-mountain crowberry birch forest (A4c). The structure of the vegetation is analysed by multivariate methods (ordination). In Dividalen all together 131 species were found; 75 vascular plants, 18 mosses, 14 liverworts and 24 lichens. This is a decrease from the number of species recorded in 1993 when 141 species were found in the same mesoplots: 74 vascular plants, 24 mosses, 18 liverworts and 25 lichens. The decrease was not significant for the total number of species or for the total number of vascular plants. However the total number of cryptogames showed a slight significant decrease in number between 1993 and 1998. This may be due to increased cover of several ericoid species. In Dividalen we found no significant changes in vegetation composition for the periode 1993 – 1998 along the first four ordination axes. However, there were changes in mesoplots with high DCA1 values. The changes were in the direction towards lower species richness. Species like Myosotis decumbens, Poa alpina, Solidago virgaurea, Cerastium fontanum and Rumex acetosa ssp. lapponicus showed the largest decrease in these mesoplots. Species that showed the largest increase were Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Mnium spinosum and Polytrichum juniperinum. We have found no relations between these changes and acidification due to deposition of pollutans. Lack of disturbance factors in the area in the last years, which favours an increase in ericoid vegetation, is the probable explanation for the changes.
The project aims to describe the environmental status of marine sediments in van Mijenfjorden. This to provide baseline data of contaminants and biodiversity, as well as for monitoring of eventual contamination from industrial activities (coal mining).
Investigation of benthic faunal communities for: taxon distribution/ biodiversity mapping; examination of effects of glacial and physical disturbance on community structure; relation between faunal structure and sediment contaminants.
The project aims to carry out an environmental assessment of the marine environment close to the three main settlements in the Isfjorden complex; Barentsburg, Longyearbyen and Pyramiden. The study comprises analyses of sediment geochemistry and soft-bottom benthic fauna. Attention is given to distinguishing atmospheric transport of contaminants from those arising from local sources.
The aim of this project is to monitor epiphytic lichen communities in a way that enables us to separate between natural variation and the effects of acidification and long range transported air pollutants.
Multi-institutional, international cooperative project to determine the possible responses of Arctic marine communities to future global climate change by comparing retrospective patterns in benthic composition and distributions to past climatic events in the Barents and Bering Seas.