Field measurements of the growth rates of forage lichens, and the implications of grazing by Svalbard reindeer

Elisabeth J Cooper, Philip A Wookey

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    24 Citations (Scopus)


    Mean relative growth rates of lichens on Broggerhalvoya, Svalbard, (78 degrees 60 ' N, 12 degrees0 ' E, Norwegian High Arctic) ranged from 2.4 (Alectoria nigricans) to 10.6 (Cladonia rangiferina) mg.g(-1) per week. This related, to a seasonal increase of between 2.5% and 11.2% of original dry mass. The number of species and percentage cover of lichens were greater inside than outside three long-term reindeer exclosures, suggesting that through their indiscriminate trampling and selective grazing Svalbard reindeer have the ability to completely alter lichen community structure, in both the short and long term. The lichen communities are only likely to be able to reestablish if there is a significant reduction in the reindeer population for at least 20 years, such as could occur by a complete emigration of deer from the area. Reduced lichen forage availability has potentially serious implications for the reindeer population.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)173-186
    Number of pages14
    Issue number1-3
    Publication statusPublished - 2001
    EventFourth Symposium of the International Association for Lichenology - Barcelona, Spain
    Duration: 3 Sep 20008 Sep 2000


    • lichens
    • relative growth rates
    • grazing
    • Svalbard
    • reindeer

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