loading page

Deciduous tundra shrubs shift toward more acquisitive light absorption strategy under climate change treatments
  • +4
  • Ramona Julia Heim,
  • Maitane Iturrate-Garcia,
  • Merin Reji Chacko,
  • Sergey A Karsanaev,
  • Trofim C Maximov,
  • Monique Heijmans,
  • Gabriela Schaepman-Strub
Ramona Julia Heim
Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies, University of Zurich

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Maitane Iturrate-Garcia
Department of Chemical and Biological Metrology, Federal Institute of Metrology METAS
Author Profile
Merin Reji Chacko
WSL Swiss Federal Research Institute
Author Profile
Sergey A Karsanaev
Institute for Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone SB RAS
Author Profile
Trofim C Maximov
Institute for Biological Problems of Cryolithozone
Author Profile
Monique Heijmans
Wageningen University
Author Profile
Gabriela Schaepman-Strub
University of Zürich
Author Profile


The effects of climate change on plants are particularly pronounced in the Arctic region. Warming relaxes the temperature and nutrients boundaries that limit tundra plant growth. Increased resource availability under future climate conditions may induce a shift from a conservative economic strategy to an acquisitive one. Following the leaf economics spectrum that hypothesizes a strategy gradient between survival, plant size and costs for the photosynthetic leaf area, light absorption of tundra plants may increase.
We investigated climate change effects on light absorptance and the relationship between light absorptance (fraction of absorbed photosynthetically active radiation, FAPAR) and structural and nutritional leaf traits, performing a soil warming and surface soil fertilization experiment on two deciduous tundra shrub species.
Our results show that fertilization and warming both increase light absorptance in Arctic shrubs and that FAPAR is correlated with leaf nutrients but not with structural leaf traits. This indicates an economic strategy shift of shrubs from conservative to acquisitive induced by warming and fertilization. We found species-specific differences: FAPAR was influenced by warming alone in Betula nana but not in Salix pulchra, and FAPAR was correlated with leaf phosphorus in B. nana but not in S. pulchra. We attribute this to water limitation of B. nana that generally grows in drier areas within the study site compared to S. pulchra.
We conclude that FAPAR is a measure that opens up more possibilities to estimate nutritional leaf traits and nutrient cycles, plant economic strategies, and ecological feedbacks of the tundra ecosystem on broader scales.
09 Feb 2023Submitted to ESS Open Archive
10 Feb 2023Published in ESS Open Archive