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Primary succession of lichen and bryophyte communities following glacial recession on Signy Island, South Orkney Islands, Maritime Antarctic

Favero-Longo, Sergio E.; Worland, M. Roger; Convey, Peter; Smith, Ronald I Lewis; Piervittori, Rosanna; Guglielmin, Mauro; Cannone, Nicoletta. 2012 Primary succession of lichen and bryophyte communities following glacial recession on Signy Island, South Orkney Islands, Maritime Antarctic. Antarctic Science, 24 (4). 323-336. 10.1017/S0954102012000120

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Abstract/Summary

A directional primary succession with moderate species replacement was quantitatively characterized on Signy Island in zones of a glacial valley corresponding to their age since deglaciation. A continuous increase in diversity and abundance of lichens and bryophytes was observed between terrains deglaciated in the late 20th century, to areas where deglaciation followed the Little Ice Age, and others thought to be ice-free since soon after the Last Glacial Maximum. Classification (UPGMA) and ordination (principal co-ordinate analysis) of vegetation data identified three different stages of development: a) pioneer communities, which rapidly develop in a few decades, b) immature communities developing on three to four century old terrains, and c) a climax stage (Polytrichum strictum-Chorisodontium aciphyllum community) developing on the oldest terrains, but only where local-scale environmental features are more favourable. Multivariate analysis including environmental parameters (canonical correspondence analysis) indicated terrain age as being the dominant controlling factor, with other environmental factors also exhibiting significant conditional effects (duration of snow cover, surface stoniness). These findings not only quantitatively verify reports of the rapid colonization of Maritime Antarctic terrains following recent climate amelioration and associated decrease in glacial extent, but also show how local-scale environmental resistance may slow or even prevent vegetation succession from pioneer to more mature stages in future.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1017/S0954102012000120
Programmes: BAS Programmes > Polar Science for Planet Earth (2009 - ) > Ecosystems
ISSN: 0954-1020
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Copyright 2012 Antarctic Science Ltd.
Additional Keywords: chronosequence, climate change, deglaciation, glacier foreland, pioneer colonization, species replacement
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Date made live: 15 Aug 2012 11:07
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/19259

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