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Paludification and forest retreat in northern oceanic environments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



Robert Macgregor Martyn Crawford, CE Jeffree , WG Rees

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Examination of temperature variations over the past century for Europe and the Arctic from northern Norway to Siberia suggests that variations in the North Atlantic Oscillation are associated with an increase in oceanicity in certain maritime regions. A southward depression of the treeline in favour of wet heaths, bogs and wetland tundra communities is also observed in northern oceanic environments. The physiological basis for this change in ecological succession from forest to bog is discussed in relation to the long-term effects of flooding on tree survival. The heightened values currently detected in the North Atlantic Oscillation Index, together with rising winter temperatures, and increased rainfall in many areas in northern Europe, presents an increasing risk of paludification with adverse consequences for forest regeneration, particularly in areas with oceanic climates. Climatic warming in oceanic areas may increase the area covered by bogs and, contrary to general expectations, lead to a retreat rather than an advance in the northern limit of the boreal forest. High water-table levels are not automatically detrimental to forest survival as can be seen in swamp, bottomland and mangrove forests. Consequently, the inhibitory effects of flooding on tree survival and regeneration in northern regions should not be uncritically accepted as merely due to high water levels. Evidence is discussed which suggests that physiological and ecological factors may interact to inhibit forest regeneration in habitats where there is a risk of prolonged winter-flooding combined with warmer winters and cool moist summers. (C) 2003 Annals of Botany Company.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-226
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Botany
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003

    Research areas

  • review, North Atlantic Oscillation, flooding, boreal forest, treeline, tundra, climate-change, bog, oceanicity, TIME CLIMATE VARIABILITY, ATLANTIC OSCILLATION, VEGETATION HISTORY, HOLOCENE HISTORY, WESTERN SIBERIA, POLLEN RECORDS, SITKA SPRUCE, YR BP, TOLERANCE, QUEBEC

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