Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Utah
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Utah Project

LTER: The Role of Biogeochemical and Community Openness in Governing Arctic Ecosystem Response to Climate Change and Disturbance

March 2011 - April 2021


Participating Agencies

  • NSF Long Term Ecological REsearch
Stephen Klobucar (former Coop PhD graduate student) holding a PIT tagged Arctic Char as part of the National Science Foundation, Arctic Long Term Research.  Many of these char lakes have been monitored for more than 20 years as indicators of environmental change.

The Arctic is one of the most rapidly warming regions on Earth. Responses to this warming involve acceleration of processes common to other ecosystems around the world (e.g., shifts in plant community composition) and changes to processes unique to the Arctic (e.g., carbon loss from permafrost thaw). The objectives of the Arctic Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Project for 2017-2023 are to use the concepts of biogeochemical and community “openness” and “connectivity” to understand the responses of arctic terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems to climate change and disturbance. These objectives will be met through continued long-term monitoring of changes in undisturbed terrestrial, stream, and lake ecosystems in the vicinity of Toolik Lake, Alaska, observations of the recovery of these ecosystems from natural and imposed disturbances, maintenance of existing long-term experiments, and initiation of new experimental manipulations. Based on these data, carbon and nutrient budgets and indices of species composition will be compiled for each component of the arctic landscape to compare the biogeochemistry and community dynamics of each ecosystem in relation to their responses to climate change and disturbance and to the propagation of those responses across the landscape. The Arctic LTER is a collaborative partnership between 5 Principle Investigators (including Budy) at academic units located at different universities and a conservative estimate of 28 secondary and very interdisciplinary Co-Principle investigators (and their students and staff) housed at 28 other academic units. The proposed research will compare key ecosystems of the Arctic to determine how their degree of openness governs their responses to climate change and acute disturbance such as fire and surface slumping associated with permafrost thaw. The proposed research will also determine how the responses to climate change and disturbance are mediated by landscape connectivity and the movement of nutrients, organic carbon, and organisms across arctic landscapes, and how that movement is facilitated or impeded by the degree of openness of the ecosystems.

Research Publications Publication Date
Budy, P. and C. Luecke. 2014. Understanding how lake populations of Arctic char are structured and function with special consideration of the potential effects of climate change: a multi-faceted approach. Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-014-2993-8. USGS FSP: SPDS: IP-053259. | Abstract June 2014
Presentations Presentation Date
Budy, P. G.P. Thiede, A. Giblin, A. Messenger, G. Kling, B. Crump, and N.R Christman. 2020. Evaluating the impact of a warmer climate on the aquatic ecology and fish of arctic lakes
via thermokarst disturbance. Western Division, American Fisheries Society Conference, Vancouver, B.C. , Canada. April 13-16, 2020.
The climate is changing faster in arctic Alaska than anywhere else on earth, and warming temperatures are having both direct and indirect effects on lakes and their biota.
April 2020
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Klobucar, Stephen. 2018. The abiotic and biotic controls of arctic lake food webs: A multifaceted approach to quantifying Trophic structure and function. PhD Dissertation. Ecology. Utah State University. August 2018