The rate of climate warming in the Arctic nearly doubles warming in the temperate regions. In the arctic tundra, this warming has already altered vegetation, with strong declines in lichens and mosses and expansion of shrubs. This process called “the greening of the Arctic” has important consequences for the global nutrient cycling and emission of green-house gases to the atmosphere. Even though, plant community dynamics has been monitored in tundra, the effect of climate warming on belowground fungi remained largely unknown, despite the known key roles that fungi play providing the plants with water and nutrients in nutrient-poor arctic soils. This thesis addresses the effect of climate warming on arctic soil fungal communities by DNA-metabarcoding. Climate warming had a strong effect on fungal community composition leading to a strong decline in diversity of lichenized, moss-associated, and ectomycorrhizal fungi. Instead, many species of saprotrophic and parasitic fungi took over. These changes are expected to alter nutrient turnover in tundra soils (including decomposition and CO2 flux) and affect populations of plants and animals (for example, caribous that are feeding on lichenized fungi in winter).

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Staff publications

Semenova, T. (2016, December 7). Fungi of the greening Arctic : compositional and functional shifts in response to climatic changes.