International Arctic Vegetation Database: CAFF Flora Expert Group
IAVD Concept Paper
An International Arctic Vegetation Database (IAVD) is needed for Arctic vegetation research, nature conservation, education, policy making and as a foundation for panarctic biodiversity studies. A new CAFF Strategy Series Report: An International Arctic Vegetation Database, a foundation for pan-arctic biodiversity studies presents a conceptual framework for the database.
The IAVD will be based on the recently completed CAFF-sponsored Pan-arctic Flora of vascular plants, the CAFF lichen list and a new species list for arctic mosses. The database and its products will be available on the Internet through the CBMP Data Portal.
Oxyria digyna, Photo: Ina Timing
Analysis of this database will produce
- lists of Arctic plant communities,
- maps of species distribution, and
- detect data gaps.
A project of the CAFF Flora Group, the IAVD will help CAFF address its mandate to promote and disseminate information on biodiversity. Additional motivations for the IAVD include the need to harmonize North American and European approaches to vegetation classification, and for archiving legacy vegetation data sets that are in danger of being lost.
The project will be launched at a workshop tentatively planned for May 2012 in Roskilde, Denmark, where the participants will review the status of Arctic vegetation data in each Arctic country and further develop strategies for funding and completing the project. Members of the project are now soliciting funds from international agencies.
Read the concept paper An International Arctic Vegetation Database .
For more information contact: D.A. Walker or M.K. Raynolds
CARMA´s Climate Database Updated with 2010 Data
Caribou, Photo: USFWS
The CircumArctic Rangifer Monitoring and Assessment (CARMA) Network has added 2010 data to its extensive climate database. The database covers 1979-2010 and is derived from NASAâ€™s Modern Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) dataset.
For 22 herds of migratory tundra Rangifer, CARMA generated seasonal distributions (calving, summer, fall, winter, spring) and downloaded all climate variables that have relevance to Rangifer ecology. Some of the variables had to be derived from the core MERRA variables. For example, the database accumulates icing, rain-on-snow, and freeze/thaw events, as well as mosquito and Oestrid indices. Because the same climate dataset is available for the entire Arctic, we are able to directly compare habitat conditions for all the herds. The dataset has been distributed to many CARMA collaborators and is being used to compare herds, assess decadal trends, link to global oscillations and examine role of habitat in herd productivity. CARMA plans to continue to annually update the dataset as on-line MERRA data becomes available.
For more information: Email CARMA
Trends in Migratory Tundra Caribou and Wild Reindeer- CARMA
Monitoring abundance of migratory tundra caribou and wild reindeer depends on counting caribou from an aircraft or from photos taken from an aircraft flying over post calving aggregations or over the calving ground. Typically, after a survey, results are not available for up to a year. Since 2010, six of 23 herds have been counted with three increases and three declines in the trend of herd sizes.
In Greenland, the Kangerlussuaq-Sisimiut increased to 98,000 and the Akia-Maniitsoq herd declined to 31,000. In northern Canada, the Bluenose-East herd increased between 2006 and 2010 to 99,000; the George River Herd sharply declined to 74,000 while the 2011 count of the Leaf River Herd is incomplete although a decline is expected. The Porcupine herd shared between Alaska and Canada has started to recover and had increased to 169,000 based on the 2010 census.
Other indicators for migratory tundra caribou and wild reindeer are tracking calf survival, sex ratio, pregnancy rates, movements, and body condition although the frequency and numbers of indicators vary considerably between herds.
In summary, since their most recent census, four herds are continuing to increase, two herds are starting to recover from declines, nine herds are declining and no trend was detected for five herds.
Reindeer, Kautokeino, Norway, Photo: Lawrence Hislop
No trends detected:
- Teshepuk Lake 2008
- Porcupine 2010
- Central Arctic 2008
- Bluenose East 2010
- Kangerlussuaq 2010
- Lena-Olenuk 2009
Decreasing herds:Western Arctic 2009
- Leaf 2001
- Qaminuriaq 2009
- Cape Bathurst 2009
Caribou antlers in snow, Photo: USFWS
- Bluenose West 2009
- Taimyr 2000
- Bathurst 2009
- George 2010
- Akia 2010
- Beverly 2010
- Ahiak 2010
- S´hampton 2009
- Yana-Indigirka 2004
- Chukotka 2009
For more information: Email CARMA
Arctic Birds Breeding Conditions Survey Update
Red Knot banding, Photo: Peter Prokosch
The Arctic Birds Breeding Conditions Survey (ABBCS) is a project run by the International Wader Study Group and it collects data on weather, abundance of rodents and predators, as well as productivity and abundance of shorebirds and other birds of the Arctic. The survey database, housed at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, accumulated information for a period of over two decades, although geographical coverage of the circumpolar region is highly variable between years.
Issue # 12 of the survey bulletin, "Arctic Birds", was recently published to the Arctic Birds website (available in Russian). The collection and editing data on breeding conditions in the 2011 field season is currently on the go.
A potential of ABBCS as an effective analytical tool for explaining flyway-wide trends in bird populations was recently demonstrated in a study by E. Rakhimberdiev with colleagues. A use of continent-wide qualitative ABBCS data on the abundance of the Ruff Philomachus pugnax on the breeding grounds led to a hypothesis of a global population redistribution in this migrant shorebird. This approach is pending testing on other species of Arctic-breeding birds, and cooperation with other networks that monitor Arctic biodiversity can become instrumental for obtaining spatial and temporal resolution required for this kind of assessment.
For more information: Email Mikhail Soloviev