The Carbon in Arctic Tussock Tundra (CATT) Network

Warming in arctic tundra will result in unexpected shifts in species composition with consequences for long-term ecosystem carbon storage. Much focus has been on arctic compositional shifts from tussock to shrub dominated vegetation. However, little is known of the consequences these shifts have for total ecosystem carbon storage. Even less is known about the interactions between climate change, competition, species persistence and loss, and ecosystem carbon storage.

Tussock tundra is a model system to improve our understanding of interactions between climate change, species compositional shifts, and ecosystem carbon storage.  First, arctic vegetation is rapidly responding to some of the largest temperature increases on the globe. Second, these changes are altering compositional shifts over large areas and increasing the presence of shrubs that may out-compete tussocks. Third, tussocks comprise a large portion of arctic ecosystem carbon stocks. It is unclear how the loss of this species will impact ecosystem carbon stocks. Fourth, tussocks also alter the soil microenvironment, and their loss can have indirect impacts soil carbon stocks.

This project will attempt to understand three large unknowns associated with the impact that tussock tundra has on ecosystem carbon stocks.  We will address three questions:

1) How much and how long is carbon is stored in tussocks?

2) What are the environmental controls on tussock formation and distribution across the landscape?

3) How will the shift from tussock to shrub tundra influence the arctic’s ability to store carbon over the long-term?

This project is currently unfunded, but we have developed the Carbon in Arctic Tussock Tundra (CATT) network to start to address some of these questions. We have developed standardized protocols and excel spreadsheets that you can use to contribute data to this network.  Network participants will be involved in the submission of a manuscript in 2016. If you are interested in participating in or have any questions about this network, then email Adrian Rocha at Supply funds may be available to participants that collect data from 3 or more sites. So far we have reached out and formed an international coalition of arctic researchers to help us collect data. We look forward to analyzing all the collected data and learning more about arctic ecosystems.

Current Network Participants
Lead: Adrian Rocha, University of Notre Dame
Co-Lead: Salvatore Curasi, University of Notre Dame
Ned Fetcher, Wilkes University
Mike Loranty, Colgate University
Sue Natali, Woods Hole Research Center
Isla Meyers-Smith and the Shrub Hub Network, University of Edinburgh
Stan Wullshleger, Oak Ridge National Lab and the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiment (NGEE)
Oliver Sonnentag, University of Montreal

Invited but not confirmed:
Steve Oberbauer, Florida International University
Robert Hollister, Grand Valley State University
Craig Tweedie, University of El Paso Texas
Ellyn Humphreys, Carleton University
Michelle Mack, Northern Arizona University
Ted Schuur, Northern Arizona University