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1 February 2009 Lichen Recovery Following Heavy Grazing by Reindeer Delayed by Climate Warming
David R. Klein, Martha Shulski
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Introduced reindeer, Rangifer tarandus, overexploited lichen-rich plant communities on St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea. A die-off of the reindeer followed, exacerbated by extreme weather in 1964, resulting in extirpation of the reindeer. A similar pattern of removal of lichens as major components of plant communities has occurred following introductions of reindeer to other islands at high latitudes. By 1985, two decades following die-off of the reindeer, total lichen biomass was only 6% of that in similar plant communities on adjacent Hall Island, not reached by the reindeer. By 2005, 41 y after the reindeer die-off, lichen regrowth on St. Matthew was only 12% of lichen biomass in the Hall Island communities. A warmer, drier climate and decreased fog in recent decades contributed to deterioration of conditions favoring lichen growth on St. Matthew Island.

David R. Klein and Martha Shulski "Lichen Recovery Following Heavy Grazing by Reindeer Delayed by Climate Warming," AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment 38(1), 11-16, (1 February 2009).
Received: 7 September 2007; Accepted: 1 January 2008; Published: 1 February 2009

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