Skip to Main Content
Snow-mediated ptarmigan browsing and shrub expansion in arctic AlaskaAuthor(s): Ken D. Tape; Rachel Lord; Hans-Peter Marshall; Roger W. Ruess
Source: Ecoscience. 17(2): 186-193
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
PDF: Download Publication (991.42 KB)
DescriptionLarge, late-winter ptarmigan migrations heavily impact the shoot, plant, and patch architecture of shrubs that remain above the snow surface. Ptarmigan browsing on arctic shrubs was assessed in the vicinity of Toolik Lake, on the north side of the Brooks Range in Alaska. Data were collected in early May 2007, at maximum snow depth, after the bulk of the ptarmigan migration had passed through the area. In an area of tall shrubs, half of the buds on Salix alaxensis were browsed by ptarmigan. Three percent of the buds that were buried beneath the snow were browsed, 90% of the buds that were less than 30 cm above the maximum snow level were browsed, and 45% of the buds above that height were browsed. Ptarmigan browsing was found to be a major height limiter for tall shrubs, thereby controlling shrub architecture by brooming stems at the snow surface and inducing stump shoots. These results were qualitatively extrapolated by photographing shrub morphology over a region approximately 300 km wide across a series of north-flowing arctic rivers with headwaters in the Brooks Range. Ptarmigan “hedging” of shrub patches, and shrub growth under a warmer climate, are opposing forces mediated by snow distribution.
- You may send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationTape, Ken D.; Lord, Rachel; Marshall, Hans-Peter; Ruess, Roger W. 2010. Snow-mediated ptarmigan browsing and shrub expansion in arctic Alaska. Ecoscience. 17(2): 186-193.
Keywordsbrowsing, greening, ptarmigan, shrubs, snow, tundra
- Differential ecophysiological response of deciduous shrubs and a graminoid to long-term experimental snow reductions and additions in moist acidic tundra, northern Alaska
- Weight distribution in the current annual twigs of barclay willow.
- Browse evaluation of tall shrubs based on the direct measurement of a management objective
XML: View XML