Herbivore-mediated plant community controls on the carbon balance of Icelandic highland tundra

March 8th, from 12:30 to 13:30 in Askja-N131

by Ian Klupar, PhD student at the University of Iceland

Land use, particularly for livestock grazing, significantly impacts ecosystem structure and function, with implications for carbon (C) cycling. Livestock grazing, when managed sustainably, can enhance ecosystem processes, but overgrazing leads to land degradation, soil erosion, and shifts in vegetation cover, reducing primary ecosystem functions like the primary production and respiration. Herbivores are present in all tundra ecosystems and regulate carbon cycling by grazing and trampling, altering the balance of these two fluxes and disturbance recovery. Grazing can vary in intensity and duration, each with different impacts of C cycling. Light grazing may boost net C uptake through nutrient deposition and compensatory growth, while intense grazing leads to biomass loss and increased soil exposure. One aspect of long-term herbivory is the selective pressure which favors slower-growing, unpalatable plant species, over faster growing, palatable species. This PhD project aims to explore how land degradation and shifts in plant species influence carbon storage and cycling in tundra ecosystems, focusing on the impacts of sheep herbivory.

Zoom link: https://eu01web.zoom.us/j/69284007083

Ugla link: https://ugla.hi.is/vidburdir/SkodaVidburd.php?sid=1448&vidburdur_id=9183