Effects of global change on a sub-Arctic heath: effects of enhanced UV-B radiation and increased summer precipitation

Gareth K. Phoenix, Dylan Gwynn-Jones, Terry V. Callaghan, Darren Sleep, John A. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


1 The responses of sub-Arctic heathland vegetation to enhanced UV-B radiation and increased summer precipitation over 7 years were investigated in a field experiment in northern Sweden. 2 Growth, phenology and reproduction of the dominant dwarf shrubs Vaccinium myrtillus, V. uliginosum, V. vitis-idaea and Empetrum hermaphroditum were studied after 5–7 years of manipulation and retrospective analyses were used to assess growth responses in earlier years. Leaf tissue N and P and 13C natural abundances were determined for V. myrtillus and E. hermaphroditum. Growth responses were also assessed for the moss Hylocomium splendens. 3 The deciduous V. myrtillus showed reduced growth, increased leaf thickness and increased flowering and berry production under enhanced UV-B in some years. V. uliginosum, V. vitis-idaea, E. hermaphroditum and H. splendens were, in general, tolerant of UV-B. 4 Increased precipitation affected growth only in the evergreen species: stem length and branching were sometimes stimulated in E. hermaphroditum, whereas V. vitis-idaea showed reduced branching. 5 Precipitation also increased leaf thickness in V. uliginosum and reduced flowering and berry production in V. myrtillus. 6 In the interactions that occurred between enhanced UV-B radiation and increased summer precipitation, combining the two treatments often negated any effect that either may have had separately. The effect of concurrent increases on this ecosystem is therefore likely to be much less than if either occurred singly. 7 Enhanced UV-B and increased summer precipitation appeared not to effect dwarf shrub abundances during the first 5 years of the experiment, suggesting that overall this heath may be more tolerant of these environmental changes than previously thought.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-267
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2001


  • Empetrum
  • Growth
  • Phenology
  • Reproduction
  • Vaccinium


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of global change on a sub-Arctic heath: effects of enhanced UV-B radiation and increased summer precipitation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this