Resistance and Resilience of Tundra Plant Communities to Disturbance by Winter Seismic Vehicles
Nancy A. Felix, Martha K. Raynolds, Janet C. Jorgenson, Kristen E. DuBois
Effects of winter seismic exploration on arctic tundra were evaluated on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, four to five growing seasons after disturbance. Plant cover, active layer depths, and track depression were measured at plots representing major tundra plant communities and different levels of initial disturbance. Results are compared with the initial effects reported earlier. Little resilience was seen in any vegetation type, with no clearly decreasing trends in community dissimilarity (differences in species cover values between disturbed and control areas). Active layer depths remained greater on plots in all nonriparian vegetation types, and most plots still had visible trails. Decreases in plant cover persisted on most plots, although a few species showed recovery or increases in cover above predisturbance level. Moist sedge-shrub tundra and dryas terraces had the largest community dissimilarities initially, showing the least resistance to high levels of winter vehicle disturbance. Community dissimilarity continued to increase for five seasons in moist sedge-shrub tundra, with species composition changing to higher sedge cover and lower shrub cover. The resilience amplitude may have been exceeded on four plots which had significant track depression.
Citation Note: This article was published when our journal had an earlier shorter name: "Arctic and Alpine Research."