Climate change impacts in polar-regions: lessons from Antarctic moss bank archives
Global Change Biology
MetadataShow full item record
Evans, J., & Griffiths, H. (2014). Climate change impacts in polar-regions: lessons from Antarctic moss bank archives. Global Change Biology, 21 1041-1057. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12774
Mosses are the dominant plants in polar and boreal regions, areas which are experiencing rapid impacts of regional warming. Long-term monitoring programmes provide some records of the rate of recent climate change, but moss peat banks contain an unrivalled temporal record of past climate change in terrestrial plant Antarctic systems. We summarise the current understanding of climatic proxies and determinants of moss growth for contrasting continental and maritime Antarctic regions, as informed by 13C and 18O signals in organic material. Rates of moss accumulation are more than three times higher in the maritime Antarctic than continental Antarctica with growing season length being a critical determinant of growth rate, and high carbon isotope discrimination values reflecting optimal hydration conditions. Correlation plots of 13C and 18O values show that species (Chorisodontium aciphyllum / Polytrichum strictum) and growth form (hummock / bank) are the major determinants of measured isotope ratios. The interplays between moss growth form, photosynthetic physiology, water status and isotope composition are compared with developments of secondary proxies, such as chlorophyll fluorescence. These approaches provide a framework to consider the potential impact of climate change on terrestrial Antarctic habitats as well as having implications for future studies of temperate, boreal and Arctic peatlands. There are many urgent ecological and environmental problems in the Arctic related to mosses in a changing climate, but the geographical ranges of species and life-forms are difficult to track individually. Our goal was to translate what we have learned from the more simple systems in Antarctica, for application to Arctic habitats.
JR is funded by Natural Environment Research Council grant NE/H014896/1.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12774
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/246149