Interaction webs in arctic ecosystems: Determinants of arctic change?

Research paper by Niels M NM Schmidt, Bess B Hardwick, Olivier O Gilg, Toke T TT Høye, Paul Henning PH Krogh, Hans H Meltofte, Anders A Michelsen, Jesper B JB Mosbacher, Katrine K Raundrup, Jeroen J Reneerkens, Lærke L Stewart, Helena H Wirta, Tomas T Roslin

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Ambio


How species interact modulate their dynamics, their response to environmental change, and ultimately the functioning and stability of entire communities. Work conducted at Zackenberg, Northeast Greenland, has changed our view on how networks of arctic biotic interactions are structured, how they vary in time, and how they are changing with current environmental change: firstly, the high arctic interaction webs are much more complex than previously envisaged, and with a structure mainly dictated by its arthropod component. Secondly, the dynamics of species within these webs reflect changes in environmental conditions. Thirdly, biotic interactions within a trophic level may affect other trophic levels, in some cases ultimately affecting land-atmosphere feedbacks. Finally, differential responses to environmental change may decouple interacting species. These insights form Zackenberg emphasize that the combination of long-term, ecosystem-based monitoring, and targeted research projects offers the most fruitful basis for understanding and predicting the future of arctic ecosystems.