Comparison of methods for revegetation of vehicle tracks in High Arctic tundra on Svalbard.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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OriginalversjonArctic Science. 2021 10.1139/AS-2021-0016
Natural regeneration after anthropogenic disturbance is slow in the tundra biome, but assisted regeneration can help speed up the process. A tracked off-road vehicle damaged a High Arctic dwarf shrub heath in Svalbard in May 2009, drastically reducing vegetation cover, soil seed bank and incoming seed rain. We assisted regeneration the following year using six different revegetation treatments, and monitored their effects one month-, and one- and eight years after their application. By 2018, all treatments still had a lower vegetation cover and limited species composition than the undamaged reference vegetation. The fertiliser treatment was the most effective in restoring vegetation cover (71 % vegetation cover, of which 62 % were bryophytes and 38 % vascular plant species). Compared to the reference plots (98 % vegetation cover, of which 32 % were bryophytes and 66 % were vascular plant species), the composition of the disturbed vegetation was still far from regenerated to its original state nine years after the tracks were made. The slow regrowth demonstrated in this study underlines the importance of avoiding disturbance of fragile tundra, and of implementing and upholding regulations restricting or banning such disturbance.